Rewitnessing the Past
NONVIOLENCE, 13 Jun 2011
Sunday June 5th, 2011 will be remembered as a day of chaos, confusion and shock for the civil society organizations throughout India. While most people were sleeping, 5,000 policemen stormed the premises of Ramlila Maidan fairground of New Delhi –a place where people take up nonviolent protest, and the police practiced the lost art of using sticks to beat human beings while they were sleeping.
Baba Ramdev has his own brand of activism as a middle-class icon yoga teacher, and he has been bold enough to raise a nationwide voice against corruption with his band of followers. He has been doing so for the past two to three months.
On June 4th, he began a fast until death to force the government to stop the graft that has taken on gigantic proportions in India. He was calling for the investigation into large amounts of undetected funds in Swiss bank accounts, and to punish people that are swindling public money.
So at 2am in the morning of June 5th, he was detained by the Delhi police and forcibly taken from the Ramlila Ground and he remained untraceable until 4 am when the news flashed that he had been sent back to Patanjali Peeth, his yoga center in Hardwar by helicopter and car from Dehradun.
What was left behind was thousands of people that had been beaten and thrashed until they evacuated the fairground, and even women and children were not spared.
Kapil Sibbal the spokesmen and Minister from the Indian Government justified the action as lawful since Ramdev had got permission for a yoga camp and not for a protest, and apparently he was permitted to capacitate 5,000 people not 100,000. Also he did not withdraw in spite of a round of discussions with the government.
While this was going on, senior workers of Ekta Parishad were told that Section 144, the law that does not permit any meetings of groups to take place, had been implemented in parts of Delhi so that no other demonstrations could take place. As Ekta Parishad was in the vicinity of Ram Dev’s protest (at Jantar Mantar) with100 farmers opposing the thousands of acres of land that are being acquired by the Jaypee group for the Yamuna Express Highway, the farmers had to wind up their activities on June 5th morning.
On the same day at around 12 noon, friends from the Anna Hazare group that was working with the Government on anti-corruption legislation, namely the Lokpal Bill met to discuss the anti-democratic behaviour of the Ram Dev incident. This included Anna Hazare, Swami Agnivesh Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, PV Rajagopal and Bharat Bhushan. The core group came up with the following decisions:
-Demand resignation of Home Minister, P.Chidambaram.
-Hold a symbolic protest (one day fast) at Jantar Mantar on 8th June.
-Call for a national meeting of civil societies on the 20th June.
-Boycott the Lokpal Commitee meeting on 6th June.
After concluding this meeting of Anna Hazare and group, I, PV Rajagopal, was informed that the Government of Chhattisgarh would be issuing a notification banning operations of Ekta Parishad and PUCL (People’s Union of Civil Liberties) in Chhattisgarh.
What happens next will largely depend on whether good sense prevails among the leaders of the Chhattisgarh Government in the days ahead.
This short note is to ask all friends and supporters of nonviolent struggles for the rights of marginalized to join hands and express global solidarity for change.
P.V. Rajagopal is the leader of the Indian National Ekta Parishad Movement.
Please visit www.ektaparishad.com.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 Jun 2011.
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