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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 44, October 17, 2009

Victims of the Home Ministry?

Saturday 17 October 2009

The advertisement of the Union Home Ministry, captioned ‘Look at These Innocent People—Victims of Naxal Violence’, that was carried in The Indian Express, The Hindu, and The Times of India on September 20, is not only vicious and vindictive, it is easily the most irresponsible in recent times. Has the executive arrogated to itself the functions of the judicature? The ad is calculated to prejudice not only the public mind but also the courts before which many prosecutions of so-called “Naxals” (sic) are pending. It is as if the Ministry is treating its distasteful depiction of corpses as a substitute for evidence in those trials.

In this way the state has abandoned all pretence to observance of the principles of natural justice according to which no one should be a judge in his own cause and no person or group should be condemned unheard.

The advertisement also attempts to efface, from the public mind, widespread killings by the police, the paramilitary forces, and the state-supported Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, as well as the innumerable fake encounters in which these forces have engaged across the country. The advertisement is clearly meant to desensitise the public to the huge casualties among innocent civilians which are now inevitable.

There is a fundamental contradiction between the rule of law underlying the Constitution and the lawless use of force that the state is contemplating.

Signatories:

Sumanta Banerji, Prof Anand Chakravarti, Prof Uma Chakravarti, Prof Neera Chandhoke, Prof C.P. Chandrasekhar, Dr Gyaneshwar Chaturvedi, Prof Ajay Dandekar, Dr. Ranjeeta Dutta, M.S. Ganesh, Prof Narayani Gupta, Sanober Keshwar, Dr Mukul Mangalik, Dr Nandini Manjrekar, Gautam Navlakha, Pamela Philipose, Mario Pinto Almeida, Jyoti Punwani, Prof Shereen Ratnagar, Prof Aswini Ray, Prof Rani Ray, Arundhati Roy, Monica Sakhrani, Dr Kumar Sanjay Singh, K. Seshachary, Prof Nandini Sundar, Dr Nalini Taneja, Dr Anand Teltumbde, and Asad Zaidi.

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