Bengaluru: Protests demanding repeal of regressive laws like UAPA, sedition and justice for Father Stan Swamy took place near the Gandhi Statue at Maurya Junction on Tuesday. The demonstration was organized by The National Action to Defend Democracy to protect the citizens’ right to dissent.
The organization had said the purpose is to ‘protest against the abuse of regressive laws on innocent human rights defenders in the country.’ References were made to the UAPA, the sedition law, and the unreasonable arrests of Journalists, human rights activists, students, and youth, entertainers, and farmers.
The speakers spoke of the need to fight fascism, and the dire present-day situation where anybody who dissents and speaks against the wrongdoings of the ruling government are termed ‘Desh Drohis’ and ‘anti-nationals.’ The Modi government was criticized for its apathy towards the protesting farmers who have been at the Delhi border for more than eight months asking for the repeal of the farm laws.
Father Stan Swamy is seen as a guiding figure who has served as an inspiration to many encouraging them to pick up and fight for good causes. Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest, was an 84-year old tribals rights activist who was charged with UAPA in connection to the Bhima Koregaon case.
Stan Swamy wasn’t the only one to face such severe detention. Swamy was arrested along with 15 other activists for the same case. Swamy had clarified multiple times he had no connection to Elgar Parishad and his plea for bail on medical grounds was repeatedly rejected. Father Stan died in Judicial custody on 5th July 2021.
To know why protestors demand the abolishing of these repressive laws, read: UAPA and NIA amendments: Tools to silence dissenting voices
In Kashmir, the family of a schoolboy was incarcerated under the UAPA because the father demanded his son’s body. His son, a minor was shot dead in a gun battle involving the security forces. There have been many instances of college Students such as Mount Carmel College’s Disha Ravi being detained for an alleged “Tool-kit.” All that Disha did was speak up for the cause of climate change and global warming.
Sudha, a representative of Naavu Bharatiyaru (We the People) collective said that the leaders such as Swamy and Sudha Bharadwaj are fighting to establish a culture in the country against a government that aims to bring about homogenisation and uniformity of of one Hindu identity and one country and one language. She also said that this fight will go on till all political prisoners are freed.
Sharath B, a student of KLE Law college says he defines UAPA as ‘Punishment without trial.’ He added that the onus falls on students like him to make the public aware of the reality of such laws.
As the protests came to an end, the slogans of “UAPA down down” and “Release all political prisoners” reverberated through Race Course Road, as demonstrators hoped the message reaches beyond the gathering and the unjust laws are repealed.