Coup on Constitution, says Arundhati as protest grows

Coup on Constitution, says Arundhati as protest grows

Activists of Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan' display placards during a protest against the arrests of activists and alleged state repression, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

Activists and intellectuals on Thursday continued to express their rage over the arrest of five people, who were accused of having Maoist links, as they dubbed the government of not adhering to the Constitution while trampling upon the rights of people.

While from writer-activist Arundhati Roy to senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani addressed a press conference, farmers organisations and trade unions came together to protest at Jantar Mantar against the shrinking space of dissent.

Roy likened the arrests and the emerging situation as a coup against the Constitution and an attempt to fracture the growing solidarity of opposition against the backdrop of the increasingly declining popularity of the Narendra Modi government.

"This is potentially dangerous than the Emergency (declared in 1975). Supposedly, the Emergency was to implement law and order and Constitution. Of course, it was violating civil rights. This is attempt to overturn the Constitution and declare India an upper caste Hindu Rashtra in which minorities and all others who are not agreeing to the majority are criminalised," she said.

She warned, "from now till the elections, there will be a continuous circus of arrests, assassinations, lynchings, riots...we are living in dangerous times. There will be a ruthless attempt," Roy said.

Addressing the press conference, activist Aruna Roy said, there is a failure of rule of law and failure to respect Constitution in all aspects. "There is a full constitutional breakdown. The message to poor, Dalits, Adivasis is that if you raise voice, we will take strong action."

As police seek to paint the Elgar Parishad, which organised the Bhima Koregaon programme following which Dalits were attacked, to Maoists, Roy said the organisers included former Supreme Court judge Justice P B Sawant and former Bombay High Court judge Justice B G Kholse Patil and the police was trying to paint it Maoist.

Magsaysay award winner and Dalit activist Bezwada Wilson said, "the state is very systematically creating fear. Whenever there is a Dalit assertion, the state repression comes in."

Mevani said the arrests of the activist is a "combination of undeclared emergency, emerging fascism and Gujarat model".

"Dalit assertion is being discredited by claiming it to having Maoist links," he added.

He said Dalits will hit the streets on September 5 to protest against the arrests.

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