Former SC judge terms police action on writers, lawyers and activists as ‘state terrorism’
Former Supreme Court judge justice (retd) PB Sawant condemned the police crackdown on civil rights activists for alleged ‘Maoist links’Updated: Aug 29, 2018 16:58 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
Former Supreme Court judge justice (retd) PB Sawant on Tuesday condemned the police crackdown on civil rights activists for alleged ‘Maoist links’. Sawant was one of the convenors of the ‘Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Diwas Prerna Abhiyan’, an umbrella group of 260 organisations which held the Elgar Parishad in Pune on December 31.
Sawant said that the action was not unexpected from the present regime as “they see everyone as Naxalites”.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, he said that such action was likely to increase in the coming days as the elections come closer.
He called it “a kind of state terrorism” that began some months ago with the first round of arrests in Pune and which had now expanded to other parts in the country.
“If appearing for the so-called Naxalites by advocates in the court amounts to Naxalite activity then you can understand the kind of proof they have,” he said of the evidence that the police claimed they had.
Sawant blamed the government for dividing society on caste and religious lines.
When asked whether he was anticipating similar police action for his role in the Elgar Parishad, he said he was part of the organising committee, but on the day of the event he was hospitalised and therefore, could not attend it.
“Which speeches does the government find inflammatory and anti-national; and let them point which portion and whose speech. Criticism of the government is not the criticism of the state and citizens have the right to criticise the government and it is their democratic right,” he said.
Sawant said that the court of law was the only recourse left to the people and hoped that the court would rise to the occasion and uphold the rule of law and democratic values, in particular, the fundamental right to freedom of expression.
He said the Maharashtra government needs to explain the contradiction of the Pune rural police submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court blaming Sambhaji Bhide and Hindutva activist Milind Ekbote for the Bhima Koregaon violence, and today’s action in which writers, lawyers and human rights activists had been arrested.
First Published: Aug 29, 2018 16:57 IST