With the marked increase in the brutality of the Indian state in cracking down on dissent, whether on people’s movements or on the marginalised sections of society, this convention in Bangalore on the topic “Indian State and the Art of Fabricating False Cases” organised by several groups (that includes the New Socialist Alternative) brought together well known activists from across India. Though some of the most high profile activists in recent times such as S.A.R Gilani (Delhi University Professor wrongly accused in the parliament blast case in 2001) and Teesta Setalvad (well known activist from Gujarat fighting for justice in the Gujarat riots of 2002 and herself facing the prospects of being jailed by the Narendra Modi government) could not make it to the convention, it nevertheless attracted over 150 people.
The morning session had speeches by Prafulla Samantara (NAPM activists from Orissa) and Prashant Paikray (spokesperson of the Anti POSCO struggle in Orissa – PPSS). Prafulla spoke about the dangers of government cracking down on dissenters through fabricating false cases as in the cases of POSCO were over 180 crinimal cases have been falsely booked against the people involved in the POSCO struggle at Dhinkia, with the leader of the struggle Abhay Sahoo himself facing over 49 cases. Prafulla speaking from his own experience in many anti corporate struggles such as mining and land acquisition, spoke on the need for an alternative political force to challenge the current neo liberal policies of the government.
Prashant Paikray of the PPSS spoke on the dire situation facing the people opposing the POSCO project with police felling trees and destroying beetle vineyards, but the only thing that is holding out the police from moving in is the stiff opposition of the people of the area from children to old people ready to give up their lives instead cowing down to the government pressure.
The sessions also inevitably touched upon the current state of affairs in Karnataka, were the most corrupt government in the history of the state led by the BJP had misused the state apparatus in raking up communal issues time and again (with the communal elements such Pramod Muthalik roaming free to this day), while at the same time allowing the free hand to the gangster profiteers like the Reddy Brothers to literally loot the state’s mining resources. Fr. Ajay Singh (Orissa) spoke about his experiences of the State’s siding with communal elements during the riots in Kandhamal in 2008. But despite three years after the riots, the attacks against Christians in Kandhamal continues even today with a murder taking place as recently as 6 months but nobody being brought to book.
Bhasurendrababu (Media Critic from Kerala) spoke about the case of the People’s Democratic Forum (PDF) leader, Abdul Nasir Maudany who had been falsely accused in the Coimbatore blast case in 1998 and recently in a blast case in Bangalore for which he is currently serving jail sentence apart from the 9 years already spent from the earlier blast case. Former Member of Parliament, Dr. Sebastian Paul (Independent) also spoke on how the war on terror has been turned into a war against the people in India as well as globally.
Kavita Srivastava (General Secretary, PUCL & well known activist of the Right to Food campaign) spoke on the thousands of people mainly tribals and marginalised sections, falsely charged throughout the country especially in states like Chattisgarh, where the state in the garb of operation of Greenhunt against the Maoist has rounded up tribals and activists involved in peaceful protests against government policies.
Satya Sivaraman (independent journalist and activist) spoke on the absence of the human rights values in Indian culture and the monopoly of the majority community ( mainly upper caste/ class Hindus) over the government machinery suppressing dissent of the marginalised sections of Indian society. Finally, Jagadish Chandra (New Socialist Alternative) spoke on the Murdoch and media role in jailing the Scottish Socialist Tommy Sheridan and need for a mass movement to fight attacks by the government and corporations.