Protest for your democratic rights

Hassan Masood

In a democracy to protest against injustice is a fundamental right. We can sit on dharnas, fasts, token protests and, if things don’t change, we can organise big rallies. The aggrieved should organise across the country and bring to media’s attention any injustice.  

Many Muslims youth (18 to 30) from poor families have been behind the bars for several years. In India we do not have any law to keep people behind the bars for years, without trial. Still it’s going on, because  community’s  leaders, nor activists protest against  this injustice. Our fundamental right is being violated, yet we don’t agitate. Under Article 22 (2) of Constitution of India an arrested person should be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours. This Article is part of our fundamental right. We don’t know law happily living with our families as we are. We do not realise the trauma of affected families whose youth are languishing in jails. In Bodoland the situation is much worse. A suspect can be arrested along with his entire family. Men are sent to men’s camp, women in woman’s camps and children in their camps. In Kashmir (and elsewhere) we have Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which is anti-people and draconian. You can’t challenge this Act in a court of law anywhere in India. The Army can arrest anyone at will and nobody can protest.

Earlier there was the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA). Around 100,000 innocent Muslims suffered. After a nationwide hue and cry it was repealed. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) was enacted, taking cover of the US ‘war on terror.” All these Acts were largely misused against Muslims to create a sense of fear among them. We did not protest strongly enough. Hence, Muslims suffered. The latest threat Muslims are facing is from Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015. Under this Act even children of age 16 can be tried as adults. Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi in his Lok Sabha speech warned the government about its probable misuse against Muslims and Adivasis. His speech is available on YouTube for anyone to listen. If BJP or any other government tries to misuse which, of course, they will try, we should come into the street.  If Muslims come into the street to protest, surely our problems would be redressed, at least to some extent. In the absence of protest, atrocities against Muslims continue.

 Many children from poor localities vanish all of a sudden. How can children vanish? Actually, a kidnap racket is active and they are successfully doing it. Poor parents cry tears of blood, but later on they forget. Rarely their children return home alive and unscathed. This is continuing because we do not protest against it. Can we believe that the police are not aware of this? Surely not. The police have informers everywhere and they are well aware of underworld activities. But in the absence of any reaction from the public kidnapping is going on.

 What is the rule? If any one goes missing, as soon as possible try to file an FIR. Normally, police avoid lodging an FIR. However, through political parties, social organisations or a criminal lawyer the FIR should be filed and a copy obtained. Aggressive follow-up should be there. If nothing works, an urgent petition known as Habeas Corpus can be filed in the High Court under Article 226, or in the Supreme Court under Article 32. The home secretary, DGP and commissioner of police should be personally present in the court to answer this. The court gives a maximum of 15 days time to the commissioner of police to present the kidnapped person in the court. If petitions start piling up in High Courts and the Supreme Court, kidnapping will stop. We neither protest, nor file FIRs, nor approach the court.

To stop governmental apathy or connivance we should develop the habit of coming into the street and protest peacefully. Protests are surely fruit bearing in a democracy. If we take along with us, deprived classes like Dalits and tribals, our protest would be effective and meaningful. In democracy we would never get of anything unless we are ready to fight for it, tooth and nail.