State violence against people a concern to date, say activists

Against State repression: Goutam Navlaka, a member of People’s Union for Democratic Rights, addressing the national convention at Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram in the city on Saturday.

They are in city for the national convention organised by CDRO

From Telangana where custodial deaths and encounter killings were common, to Kashmir where several incidents of rapes and murders by the Army personnel were reported, State represses most people’s struggles, opined activists from across the country, who were in the city to attend a national convention.

Speaking at the meet, Goutam Navlaka, a writer for Economic and Political Weekly and the member of People’s Union for Democratic Rights, said the media focus on Kashmir issue should be on violence committed by the Army there.

“It should not be forgotten that Kashmir has a long history of democratic movements. People took up arms as the democratic movements were suppressed by brute force. And even now, women are violated sexually and children are killed by the Army units. Under such circumstances, didn’t State violence cause repression of people?” asked Mr. Navlaka.

The meeting was organised by the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO), a collective of 20 civil and democratic organisations.

In the meeting, the CDRO members condemned the Indian state’s encounter killings to eliminate ‘undesirables’ ranging from criminals and petty offenders to political dissidents. A maximum number of such killings had taken place in the States, including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the activists said.

They said there was no difference between “real” and “fake” encounter killings as the State has not investigated into all the police or Army actions that resulted in deaths.

“Any distinction between the fake and real encounters is untenable unless all the cases of encounter killings are investigated,” said the CDRO members.

“Legitimisation of encounter allows the State to assume absolute power to kill and the right to punish by death, sidestepping the normal judicial processes of investigation and trial”. They claimed that encounter killings by definition violates law, the principles of jurisprudence and the Constitutional rights.

“The Telangana government, before the formation of the State, had promised not to shed blood of innocents. Soon after the Telangana Rashtra Samithi came to power, there were three encounter killings, including that of two young people branded as Maoists and that of Vikaruddin, who was under judicial custody,” said G. Laxman of the Civil Liberties Committee.

Another speaker at the meeting, Kranti Chaitanya, said even the Indian judiciary was acting in accordance with the State.

“The judicial system should be democratised. The State suppresses the aspirations of the people and the judiciary seems to ratify that approach. Now, it’s almost impossible to distinguish between the State and the judiciary,” Mr. Chaitanya said.

On September 3, activists Soni Sori and Bella Bhatiya are expected to attend the meeting.