Against Violation of Freedom of Speech, Expression and Conscience in Gujarat, India sign now


Dr. Prathiba Patil
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi

Your Excellency,

Today, June 26th, reminds us of the day Emergency was promulgated in India, thirty-three years ago. We also remember the resilience of the Indian people who fought back for their freedoms and rights and ultimately to uphold the sanctity and the primacy of the Constitution of India.

At this juncture, we would like to draw your kind attention to the fact that there is an Undeclared state of Emergency here in Gujarat today. We can cite several examples where the Freedom of Speech, Expression and Conscience is being denied and threatened by the State or backed by it. These include :

The reporter of AajTak was charged because of telecasting the news exposing the indifferent attitude of the Modi Government towards the orphan of the riot victim of Naroda Patia, as assured by the then President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
The Editor of Samana of Surat was prosecuted due to its coverage on the Surat flood.
The Editor of Aajkal of Rajkot was charged with 124A because of coverage of news exposing the nexus between Police and the Underworld in Bhavnagar.
The Editor of Young Aarohi of Veraval was framed 124A because of carrying the news exposing the Arms trafficking.
124A was also filed against Ms. Nafisa Ali and daily Divya Bhaskar on her comment on carnage 2002.
The attack on artists of the MS University.
The attack on the NDTV office.
The non-release of the films like Fanaa and Parzania in Gujarat.
The Sedition charges made on The Times of India for their exposure of the current Police Commission of Ahmedabad.
The criminal conspiracy charge made against the well known political psychologist Ashish Nandy for an article written against the Gujarati Middle Class.
(There are innumerable overt and covert threats to the media in the State).

We are also deeply concerned about the Freedom of Religion Law (enacted in Gujarat from April 1st 2008), which curbs the right of a citizen from freely expressing, choosing and following the religion of his/her choice.

We also are very concerned about the denial of this fundamental right in other parts of the country like the attack on Mr. Kumar Ketkar the Editor of the popular Marathi Newspaper Loksatta and also the illegal detention for over a year of Social Worker Dr. Binayak Sen in Chattisgarh.

On June 22nd 2008, we had a massive meeting in Ahmedabad where several leading citizens of the State voiced their concerns and apprehensions of the deteriorating situation in Gujarat. The Freedom of Expression Conference unanimously made the several demands which include :

1. Withdrawal of the charge of sedition and conspiracy immediately.
2. Institute a high level judicial enquiry on the charges against Mr. O.P. Mathur.
3. The column of Sedition be scrapped permanently from I.P.C.
4. The Home Minister of Gujarat should come out with the clarification on the charge of Sedition against Times of India.
5. All the cases against media persons be withdrawn.
6. The unconditional release of Dr. Binayak Sen.
7. Scrap all draconian acts encroaching Freedom of Expression and Conscience (like the Freedom of Religion Law).
8. A congenial atmosphere of confidence building measure for freedom of expression be released.
9. Review all the cases of the detainees under TADA, PASA and POTA.

Your Excellency, you are certainly aware of the reality of Gujarat and other parts of India. We therefore urge you, as the Constitutional Head of the country, to act expeditiously, in upholding the dignity of the Constitution, and ensure that the Freedom of Speech, Expression and Conscience in the State of Gujarat, is guaranteed and protected by the Government.

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