Has sedition become a new weapon to silence the voices which question the present dispensation? The answer is yes
The chief coordinator of the Anti-Methane Project Movement, T Jayaraman has been booked for sedition reportedly for publishing a book against the sovereignty of the state, said a report by The Times of India. The case was booked by Mayiladuthurai police station under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code. He was booked for speaking against the sovereignty and national integration. The book launch event was held at Madhanam street of the same town on 22 October 2017.
He was arrested along with eight others in July for participating in protests against the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s oil extraction being carried out at Kathiramangalam. He was sent to Tiruchirapalli Central Prison. In the 42 days, he spent in the prison, the activist wrote the book, Nadhigal Inaippum Aarugalai Pidingi Virkkum India (Interlinking Of Rivers That Snatches And Sells Rivers), said a report by The Newsminute. This book, merely 48 pages long, revolves around the theme of river linking.
Only 100 copies of this book have been printed. He was out on bail after his imprisonment in the Thanjavur district; the activist now has been bogged down with charges of sedition against him. The activist asks, “How is this a democracy if I am not allowed to express my thoughts. Are we not allowed to write against any government anymore?” “The Centre can’t take criticism, and the state has forgotten its people and is pandering to pressure from the BJP government,” he further added, according to a report by The Newsminute.
The book argues that the project will not work and it is merely deception on the part of the government. The action of the state to allow the corporate bodies to control the water bodies by taking it away from the people is an act of deception. Jayaram further says, “A project of this magnitude will involve some of the biggest multinational companies and once it is done, do you think they will give us free access to water?”, said a report by The Newsminute.
He further points out that the environmentalists have pointed out that the idea is unfeasible and that the project will be a heavy burden on the public exchequer. It will be the taxpayers who will finally have to bear the monstrosity of the project. “But just as the government has to back, even I have the support of the human rights activists and the environmentalists. They are the ones who will successfully help me to fight the sedition case.”
This book has shaken the government to such an extent that it had to invoke the heavy-handed law of sedition against the Anti-Methane activist Jayaraman. His book comes against the backdrop of Centre’s plans to connect 37 Himalayan and peninsular rivers. The government plans to dam those rivers where there is an overflow of water and water will be directed to those rivers that need more water to sustain.
This project has an estimated worth of $168 billion, and ecologists have termed this reckless river-linking project is finally underway. On September 16, the Godavari and the Krishna rivers – the second and the fourth-longest rivers of the country were interlinked through a channel at Andhra Pradesh. Completion of the project amounted to Rs 1300 crore, said a report by the Scroll.
The second scheme Ken-Betwa project is pegged at Rs 11,676 crore and is currently under development. The project is likely to be completed by the end of December. The river linking project was envisioned in 1982, and it was actively taken up by the BJP-led Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2002.
The flow of water will be diverted, and around 30 canals, 3000 small and large reservoirs will be constructed to generate 34 gigawatts of hydroelectric power. These canals will stretch for up to 15,000 kilometres. Ecologists and environmentalists warn that the project is imprudent and dangerous as there is no information about the ultimate impact of such a massive undertaking. Environmentalists have said that there is a little scientific basis for this project and that a river is not a pipe which can be controlled easily.
Sedition as part of the Indian Penal Code was introduced and used by the British to suppress the citizens, their freedoms and their fight for freedom. The IPC and most importantly sedition is an inheritance from the British empire.
Sedition by meaning is defined as conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch and sedition in India is defined by the Indian Penal Code section 124A. Progressive democracies, however, have always prioritized freedom of speech, expression and freedom of religion over the sedition.
We often take pride in the fact that India is the largest democracy in the world. In a democracy, one is entitled to free speech. If one doesn’t have the rights to enact freedom through his actions and any act of criticism of the government earns one the title of seditious, it is high time that we, citizens of the largest democracy should step back and think about the “greatness”!
The Logical Indian community condemns the acts of the government in arresting Jayaraman. It also urges the concerned authorities to look into the matter and ensure that he is released soon.