NEW DELHI — Civil society members have alleged that BJP-led Maharashtra government is harassing prominent rights activist Ram Puniyani who has been critical of the BJP and right-wing forces through security agency. Reportedly, a team of CID has conducted an unauthorized raid at his home and harassed his family.
They accused that the government is trying to muzzle the voice of dissenters and the opposition. Writing to Mumbai Police Commissioner, they condemn the unauthorized raid conducted by the CID and demanded to order a probe into this whole episode and to book the guilty.
Human rights activist Shabnam Hashimi, who issued the press statement on behalf of civil society on March 10, asked for the endorsement of the statement.
Here is the full text of the statement:
The Commissioner of Police
We the undersigned strongly condemn the way in which attempts were recently made to intimidate Prof Ram Puniyani by people supposedly belonging to CID. We fear that it is to silence his voice which has always remained critical of communal forces and has fought for peace and harmony.
We are told that on 9th March three men who said they were from CID visited his home in the garb of an inquiry for passport, which neither Prof Ram Puniyani had applied for nor did anyone else from his family applied for one. What is worrisome is that they asked all kinds of objectionable questions to him and his family members.
Looking at the fact that not only the Maharashtra government but the BJP led dispensation at the center is trying to suppress all voices of dissent against their acts of omission and commission – which has generated tremendous concern among human rights defenders everywhere – we feel that this can be a precursor to involve him in some legal hassles, or implicate him in some case so that he is silenced.
It need be underlined here that Prof Ram Puniyani, who was a professor in biomedical engineering at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Bombay had taken voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full-time for communal harmony in India. Author of many books on communal harmony and secularism, he writes regularly in different publications to strengthen voices of sanity and has consistently questioned and challenged divisive forces of various kinds and has even received the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award (2006) and National Communal Harmony Award (2007) apart from many other awards for his work.
We demand that an inquiry be ordered into this whole episode and the guilty be brought to book for their act of intimidating a widely known writer and noted activist.