In the wake of “arbitrary” government action against use of social media and “policing” of books, several activists called for safeguarding democratic rights Thursday, which marked the 39th anniversary of the Emergency.
Social activist Aruna Roy said government surveillance in the recent days was reminiscent of the Emergency – imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi on June 26, 1975 – when law enforcement agencies muzzled any expression of dissent.
“Freedom of expression is under attack by the state as well as authoritarian elements in society. It is clearly evident in the arbitrary acts of violence against Facebook posts to policing books and forcing withdrawal of public issue, and the more recent IB (Intelligence Bureau) report and its deliberate targeting of NGOs opposed to the dominant economic framework,” she said.
Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar echoed similar sentiments.
“We should not take the democratic framework of rights for granted; there should be constant vigilance and the necessary conviction and courage to make personal sacrifices in order to safeguard these inalienable rights of every citizen,” he said at Jantar Mantar, addressing people who had gathered to recall the atrocities committed during the Emergency.
Other prominent speakers were Justice (retd.) Rajinder Sachar, National Minorities Commission’s former chairman Wajahat Habibullah, commentator Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, among others.
The gathering passed a resolution, reiterating a firm resolve for ensuring an environment free of fear and coercion, and one where different visions of public policy and development will get equal space and the right to be heard.