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CRPP Condemns the Disinformation Campaign against Rights Activists

By the Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners

Expose the vilification campaign of the Investigating agencies-a calculated assault on the democratic rights of political prisoners and all those who defend them!

In the Charge Sheet filed on Mr. Kobad Ghandy by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, on the 19-02-10 wild accusations are made about the activities of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) as an organisation to further the cause of the CPI (Maoist).

Similarly other civil and democratic rights organisations such as the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) and a host of other people's organisations have all been mentioned as those working to enhance the support base of the CPI (Maoist).

This was followed by stories implanted by the police in the media on the same wane. We strongly condemn such vilification campaign by the police and the investigating agencies in connivance with the state. We see this as a malicious attempt to brow beat any voice of dissent against the policies of the government. This vicious attempt to demean the rights activists is deliberate to coerce and threaten all dissenting opinions in favour of the government so as to discourage any further intervention from the side of the democratic rights organisations.

The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) is a platform that came into being after the conference on March31, April1 2008 in Delhi with an array of civil rights activists, lawyers and prominent citizens of impeccable credentials being part of the process. Noted Dramatist and people's artist Gurusharan Singh is the president of the committee. Retired Justice Rajinder Sachar who is himself associated with the PUCL was participant and guiding force in the preparatory committee of the platform. Senior socialist leader and civil libertarian Mr. Surendra Mohan is one of the advisors of the committee. Besides the Committee comprises of activists from various regions of the subcontinent who have been taking up the causes of those persecuted under an array of issues such as the fight for community rights, right to life, livelihood, dignity, against displacement and dispossession, for the right to national self determination and also the Maoists.

Ever since the filing of the charge sheet on Mr. Kobad Ghandy-who was shown as arrested on the 21-09-09 by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police-on the 19-02-10 there have been sensational media reports about the alleged activities of the former in Delhi. In all the narratives inspired by the imagination of the police there is a deliberate attempt to build a hostile profile of the political prisoner for the political views espoused by him. Time and again a caricature is made of a dreadful personality on the basis of a so-called confessional statement made by him before the investigating agencies. The selective implants of stories in the obliging media of this 'confession statement'-which will never stand in any court of law-is a blatant violation of the rights of the person on whom the charges are filed to be presumed innocent till proven guilty on the same. This malicious attempt of the police in connivance with the state is to do a media trial of the person even before the court proceeds through the trial. The media trial is deliberately indulged in to vitiate the public opinion not to say influence the opinion of the court. A day before the hearing on Narco analysis at the High Delhi the Indian Express carried a story by Mr. Manish Brar on the front page about the so-called confession of Mr. Kobad Ghandy. The reporter apart from several basic factual errors didn't even bother to call his lawyer to check the facts as well as the veracity of the statement. After seeing the story the Lawyer Ms. Rebecca John wrote a rejoinder which none of the papers cared to carry. Mr. Kobad came to know about his confession statement when he was told by the police! His lawyers had immediately filed the retraction petition before the courts in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.

This has been the strategy of the police in connivance with the state to float stories that would stigmatize the profile of the political prisoner-be it someone from the minority communities fighting for their rights such as the dalits, adivasis, the Muslims or those being persecuted for their demand to national self-determination such as the Kashmiris, Nagas, Manipuris, Assamese, the Sikhs and lastly the Maoist political prisoners who stand for radical social transformation free from all forms of exploitation.

This negative profile of the political prisoner is brought again and again before the public to further point an accusing finger on those who are ready to take up the rights of the political prisoner-his/her right to be represented by a lawyer of choice, the right to defend oneself without prejudice and also to be given the status of a political prisoner as per the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of the United Nations to which India is also a signatory. It is the inalienable right of anyone to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a democratic country. And it is the constitutionally guaranteed right to stand and fight for the rights to life, livelihood, dignity and equality. By tirelessly working towards this end the civil and democratic rights organisations and other people's organisations have only endeavoured to enhance the democratic space of the oppressed, exploited, mistreated and discriminated. To cast aspersions on the activities of civil, democratic and people's organisations or for that matter anyone who is working for the betterment of the people, the society as inimical to the interests of a democratic polity smacks of thoughts bred in a fascist mind!

The CRPP once again strongly condemn such wilful vilification indulged in by the investigating agencies as a fascist ploy to strangulate any form of dissent against the government or the establishment. Such wishful thinking from the side of the powers that be cannot deter our convictions for standing for a better world where justice rules.

In Solidarity,

Gurusharan Singh (President)
Amit Bhattacharyya (Secretary General)
SAR Geelani (Working President)
Rona Wilson (Secretary Public Relations)

27. 02.2010