Modi government attacking people’s right to dissent: PUCL

Patna, Sep 22 (IANS) The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is suppressing people’s voice, according to a senior executive of a human rights body.

The vice president of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Kavita Srivastava, said the right to dissent had come under vigorous attack ever since the Modi government came to power at the Centre.

“The Modi government has shown a complete lack of humanitarian point of view in their development model. Interference in the fundamental rights of people has increased. There is no right to dissent,” Kavita told IANS here.

A majoritarian assault with state consent had also increased against those who raise questions or oppose them, which was a dangerous trend for a democratic setup like India, she added.

She said the BJP-led government feared any kind of questions and challenge to their stand on various issues. “In fact, democracy is under threat when right to dissent is under attack,” she said.

Kavita was in Patna to deliver a lecture to mark the birth anniversary of former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Chandrasekhar, who was shot dead in Bihar’s Siwan district in 1997.

“It is due to the new character of the Indian state that corporate raj and Hindutva raj have gained legitimacy to deal mercilessly with those opposing their interests,” Kavita said.

The PUCL vice president said the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s (RSS) role in governance has increased after Modi became the prime minister. “Modi is the best person to push forward the Hindutva agenda and the BJP victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was a defining moment for the RSS,” she said.

“The RSS mindset has been working fast after Modi came to power. The RSS policy is that if you insist on a different point of view or disagree with the RSS, they will eliminate you. The legacy of Godse (Nathuram, who shot dead Mahatma Gandhi) is being resurrected to silence the likes of Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi,” Kavita said.

The PUCL vice president said the government was also trying to look at what we eat or not, though it was a personal choice.

Pushing vegetarianism in midday meals was a wrong idea and would deprive the poor children of nutrition, she said and added that meat ban and beef ban were part of an attack on civil liberties of the people.

Kavita also said that different tools were being deployed to intimidate non-governmental organisations, civil societies and trusts like the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

“Look at the Intelligence Bureau report, which says PUCL is a threat to the national security. It questions our right to hold seminars. Why can’t we hold seminars? Democracy exists due to questions,” she said.

She said the BJP government at the Centre had also undermined merit. “The BJP government has brought in all those with no experience in their respective field to head different institutions. They are extremely mediocre people. They want to hijack all national institutions.”

“Appointments made in Film and Television Institute of India, the Censor Board, Indian Council of Historical Research and Nehru Museum are examples. One thing is clear that the RSS has played a role in all appointments,” Kavita said.

She said that union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma’s statement that former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was a nationalist despite being a Muslim pointed to the mindset of the RSS which still looked at Muslims with suspicion.

“Two corporate-Hinduvta think tanks – India Foundation and Vivekanand Foundation – have become active like never before ever since the BJP came to power at the Centre. Every Wednesday, three union ministers attend their meetings since it is important for the government,” Kavita said.

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