Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Prominent social and human rights activists on Monday expressed the apprehension that the re-promulgation of National Security Act (NSA) in the national capital is meant to deter and intimidate the anti-CAA, NRC and NPR protesters. This was promulgated, after it was noted that there was no sign of the protests being abated, they said.
The anti-CAA protests entered the second month and are getting stronger day by day.
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal (read… the Centre) on Sunday extended the police’s detention powers under NSA for three months starting January 19. The draconian law allows cops to hold a person for 12 months without trial. It also legalises denial of Constitutional rights to individuals in the name of national security.
Activists sensed this was an attempt to crush citizenship protests. As many as six new Shaheen Bagh-type protests or sit-in by local women emerged in Trans-Yamuna area (East Delhi). The draconian law would give unbridled powers to Delhi Police, which had in recent days brutally attacked protesting students and others on campuses of JMI, JNU etc and also on people in Daryaganj and other places here.
Renowned civil rights defender, Ravi Nair, slammed the Centre for re-promulgation of the law in Delhi. Nair is convener of the ‘Alliance against CAA and NRC’ a broad-based platform of civil society organisations and volunteers that leads the struggle against the citizenship law. He told Caravan Daily that the Delhi Police termed the re-promulgation a routine exercise but in the given political situation, it was not.
“It gives out the message that the government is planning a harsh crackdown on the protesters, as the whole city has erupted in protest since this religiously discriminatory law was passed by Parliament in December. In the given political situation, the government should have thought twice before re-promulgating the order. It has sent out the message that the government is planning to unleash repression on the protesters,’’ said Nair, who is also director of the Human Rights Documentation Center.
Delhi has emerged as an epicenter of the anti-CAA protests and has been grabbing the attention of the international media. Taking a cue from the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia Islamia, many new protest hubs have sprung up in east Delhi and old Delhi areas
Noted social activist Shabnam Hashmi has condemned the repromulgation of NSA. She told Caravan Daily that this was just another draconian measure of the Modi government to intimidate people and suppress dissent. She noted that the resistance to CAA/NRC and NPR has been unprecedented and the government has been caught unawares. They (RSS-BJP) only specialize in curbing opposition and that is what they are doing by invoking NSA, she said.
OVAIS SULTAN KHAN
Well-known activist Ovais Sultan Khan noted that Delhi has emerged as the epicenter of anti-CAA protests and was attracting international media attention that has unnerved the Centre and the city’s police force. “It is shameful that the government has been taking advantage of this cruel, arbitrary, anti-human rights piece of black legislation to crush the democratic protests,” he told Caravan Daily and added that this was part of the government’s intimidation plan against the dissenting voices.
Terming the people’s protest as an ‘organic democratic uprising against the CAA, he said the re-imposition of the NSA on the city was intended to intimidate people participating in the protests. “On January 26, our democracy would be 70 years old, but this government has been attempting to stifle and suppress the democratic voices by using such anti-human laws,” Khan said.
It was strange that the NSA was invoked at a time when the election campaign for the forthcoming Delhi assembly elections has just begun, he said, and added that the Modi government obviously wanted to send out a message that “it could do whatever it wants to crush dissent.”
Meanwhile, social and political groups also reacted on the re-promulgation of NSA. Communist Ghadar party leader Briju Naik said it was an attempt to deter people from participating in anti-CAA protests. Speaking with Caravan Daily, Naik said it was not the LG but the Centre that has re-invoked this draconian law. “We should not get scared by going to jail as the current resistance is for a better future fot the people,” he said.
Social organisation the Popular Front of India also condemned the action of the Delhi Lieutenant Governor. PIF general secretary Mohammad Ali Jinnah said no situation existed in Delhi that could justify such draconian steps. “Everyone knows how desperately the central government and Delhi Police want people’s agitations against CAA and NRC stopped,” he said. “Delhi police used extreme violence even against students and treated them like enemies merely for exercising their democratic rights to protest a government policy.”
He feared of NSA’s misuse by the police as the protests have intensified in Delhi. “Since the protests are ongoing in various parts of the capital city like Jamia Millia Islamia, Jama Masjid, Shaheen Bagh and Jantar Mantar, there is every reason to fear that the NSA will be misused against people participating in the protests.”
He also said the BJP might also use it against its political opponents during the Delhi elections, as the party is already facing a serious crisis of declining popularity. “In short, NSA in Delhi is an attempt to suppress democratic dissent under the pretext of national security and law and order,” he said.