The following is the continuation of the text of “CITIZENS GUIDE TO RAJIV GANDHI’S INDIA” published by the People’s Union of Democratic Rights, an Indian Human Rights Organization. Excerpts are being published in series of the WSN
The Writing On The Wall….. should be clear to all.
The following pages are an attempt to warn the citizens of India of the unduly wide scope of powers being Given to the police the paramilitary forces and the army under these Acts, which violate the right of the ordinary Citizen to go about his/her legitimate business in daily life without unnecessary interference. The violation can take numerous forms ranging from detention of innocent Citizens for an indefinite period to the outright shooting of citizens without any obligation on the part of the Police or army to face the courts. The laws effect all sections of the population ranging from employees in government institutions (including even those employed in the police intelligence agencies), to journalists from trade union activists to an ordinary pedestrian. We have given examples of the situations which are most likely to occur and have occurred in the daily lives of citizens.
We are constantly aware of the need of balancing two interests the need to ensure that terrorism is stopped, that criminals are prosecuted on the one hand, and on the other hand the right of citizens to perform their normal functions without harassment and above all their right to protection of life and personal liberty. But we feel that the government is increasingly adopted measurers that are supposed to contain terrorism at the expense of individual liberty.
The government has as yet failed to give us a convincing explanation as to why instead of taking recourse to extraordinary laws, it is not effectively using the existing laws like the Criminal Procedure Code, the Indian Penal Code and similar legislations which are specifically meant to deal with criminals and have provisions that are thorough going enough to arm the authorities with powers to tackle offenses of a violent nature the sort of offenses that the terrorists are committing? Why are new laws being enacted which in one brush stroke paint both the terrorist and an innocent citizen with the uniform color of black which with a broad sweep drive both a criminal and a law abiding citizen to the same fate imprisonment or death?
If the government can violate the fundamental rights of Indian citizens on the basis of its subjective assessment of intentions, it is about time that Indian citizens question the Intentions of the Government a questioning not based purely on subjective speculations but on the actual evidence of how these Acts are being used against political opponents, trade unionists, civil liberties activists, any ordinary citizen.
If the Government can violate the Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens on the basis of its subjective assessment of Intentions, it is about time that Indian citizens question the Intentions of the Government.
Watch the Damocles Sword hanging over your lives. You may be yet unaffected by the repression which is let loose in the less publicized areas of Nagaland. Manipur or Mizoram or the more exposed (but likely to be blacked out once the Emergency is declared there) areas in Punjab. But soon, one day or the other, you can become its victim.
The Dragnet is closing in. Yesterday it was Nagaland. Today it is Punjab. Tomorrow it may be you! If you want to walk, you need the government’s permission…
If you are walking down a certain road, or taking a stroll along a railway track, or loitering near a certain
If you are unlucky enough to miss the official gazette notification or fail to memorize the ever growing list of such prohibited places and inadvertently walk into their vicinity, leave alone enter them, you will be stung by the TADA live wire!
building, you may be committing a crime. You can be hauled up by the police and sent to jail for a period that can last from six months to three years.
Under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Rules, 1986, made by the Central Government in exercise of the powers conferred by the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, or TADA of 1985 — “No person shall without the permission of the Central Government or the State Government enter or be on or in or pass over a loiter in the vicinity of any prohibited place.” (Rule 6).
What is a prohibited place? According to the Rules, it means a place as defined in C1.8 of Sec 2 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923. The relevant clause of that Act describes among other places, “… any railway, roadway or channel or other means of communication by land or water .. which is for the time being declared by the Central Government by notification in the official Gazette to be a prohibited place for the purpose of this Act.”
If you are unlucky enough to miss the official gazette notification or fail to memorize the ever growing list of such prohibited places and inadvertently walk into their vicinity, leave alone entering them, you will be stung by the TADA live wire!
If You Are a Bystander… and happen to be present when a violent incident takes place, you can be accused of being responsible for it.
If you think it is absurd read Section II A of the Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act: which says that if ‘a person “had been at a place in such areas at a time when firearms or explosives were used at or from: that place to attack or resist the members of any armed forces or the forces charged with the maintenance of public order acting in the discharge of their duties, it shall be presumed unless the contrary is shown, that such person had committed such offense.
Do Not touch Any Paper… If you receive. letter, or anyone thrusts a handbill into your hands or you pick up a newspaper from a stall, be careful. For they can carry “information likely to assist terrorists or disruptions.” And once you touch them you can be jailed for a term varying from six months to seven years.
Under TADA “acquisition, possession or publication, without lawful authority or excuse of information likely to assist terrorists or disruptions is a crime.
The mere receipt of such information by you is good enough for the government to arrest you. Plug your ears, put blinkers over your eyes and do not touch anything!
Brought to you by: World Sikh Organization, U.S.A.