By Mahmood Asim,,

New Delhi: Issue of disappearance, torture in jails, encounter on false basis, recognition of political prisoners and repeal of unconstitutional laws such as UAPA and AFSPA only can be dealt with mass movements, these were among the concerns expressed here in JNUSU at a programme by Democratic Students Union (DSU).

The discussions revolving around UAPA – the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 and AFPSA – the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 – were part of the programme held on November 7 demanding release of all political prisoners namely Hem Mishra, a student of JNU, Prof GN Sai Baba, a professor of Delhi University and many more likewise.

Addressing the gathering on the topic of ‘Jailing Dissent and Persecuting Political Prisoners’ Arun Ferreira, whose recent book titled ‘Colours of the Cage: A Prisoner’s Memoir’ based on his own experiences has been published, said “the UAPA is unconstitutional because it decides guilt by ideology and guilt by association.”

In a response to a question regarding the same he added, “I oppose UAPA because it criminalizes intent before the act.” Citing his own example, he said when the Magistrate asked the police about seized materials which could prove my association with Maoists, the police answer was simple “Books laal hain sahib. (The books are red, sir).”

Prof KJ Mukherji of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) said: “Do not think, if you think do not speak, if you speak do not write … (although) it is an anecdote describing Russia, it is more appropriate for India.”

Referring to Milton, he urged that the supporters also stand for what Milton says “I cannot praise fugitive virtues.”

Hem Mishra’s father KD Mishra encouraged everyone to carry forward the struggle against oppression and injustice of state towards people and described the filthy situation of jails, especially the Nagpur Central jail, where his son is languishing for more than one and half years.