Despite the farmer unions’ decision to keep their ongoing protest in Delhi against the farm laws “apolitical”, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) plans to use this platform to demand the release of several accused booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for allegedly having links with Naxals, on Human Rights Day, to be observed Thursday.
Pictures of more than 20 accused, including Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, booked under the stringent UAPA, will be installed on a stage near the Tikri border. Many human rights groups are also expected to participate.
“We will celebrate International Human Rights Day at Baba Banda Singh Nagar, near Tikri border, to raise our voices for the release of intellectuals and human rights activists. Demand for the release of these prisoners has been raised constantly throughout the agitation. Modi government is running a Fascist agenda. On one hand it is promoting Adani and Ambani and on the other hand it is pushing intellectuals and activities into jail. Around two dozen activists have been booked under UAPA for Bhima Koregaon and instigating Delhi riots,” said Jhanda Singh Jethuke, senior vice-president of BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan).
“It has been part of our demands from the very first day to release human rights activists locked up in jails…Government has said that the farm agitation is provoked by urban Naxals, Congress and Khalistanis. Urban Naxal is an excuse to prosecute people. In Punjab, people are sandwiched between state terrorism and terrorists…Naxalism has helped tribal people claim their rights,” said N K Jeet, lawyer and coordinator of the BKU (Ugrahan) event.
He further said, “We do not endorse their ideology. But tribal people are struggling in India to save their water, land and forest. Their right to struggle should be protected. Government has tagged them as Naxals.”
“It is our conscious decision to support these accused. Khalistani were not part of this farmer movement. The Naxal movement was always a farmers’ movement all over India. Releasing these accused is a demand of BKU. We made it part of memorandum to government related to farm Bills,” he added.
Asked why BKU (Ugrahan) is not focusing on cases of alleged human rights violations in Punjab, in which accused alleged prosecution in the name of Khalistan, Jeet said, “We know why we are not talking about such cases. Otherwise, we often speak about human rights violations in Punjab.”
Asked if there is any specific case of human rights violations in Punjab related to UAPA or otherwise on which BKU is working, Jeet only said that cases were registered against people in Punjab for protesting in violating of the pandemic legislation.
Asked to comment on the matter, the president of another farmer union, which is part of the protests against the farm laws, said, “Our focus is only on farm laws. I don’t want to comment on any other event.”