Press Release: 25-10-2008
Hundred arrested and released: Vow to combat ‘goonda raj’ with State violence
The silent peaceful protest by a few hundred peace loving, non communal and progressive citizens including activists from dalit, women’s rights, literary and other human rights groups in Mumbai challenging the hijacking of the ordinary citizens’ agenda and the violent, divisive politics of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and its instigator-leader Raj Thackeray was targeted by the Mumbai police today afternoon at 3:30 p.m.outside the Church Gate Railway station.
The Police had given permission for the planned silent protest with black strips on the mouths and posters, between 2-4 pm after intimation. However, with no jutsification, Mr. Shishupal and other police officials started disturbing the protest since the beginning. Later, within less than an hour when they witnessed jathas of women and men gathering, they came down heavily on the protesters, arbitrarily snatching away the banners, confiscated leaflets and physically lifted some of them including social activist Medha Patkar, veteran film maker Anand Patwardhan, Advocate Hasina Sanobar and others amidst heavy media presence.
The protestors, who were taken to the Azad Maidan Police Station were later released after an hour of illegal detention, without declaring any sections of the IPC. They then marched towards the VT Railway Station raising slogans against the police atrocities and violent regionalism. The activists from the Republican Panthers also actively sang songs of peace and diversity. The actions of the police cracking down on peaceful voices of protest that are trying to preserve the rich and diverse culture of Maharashtra is infact against the true Marathi culture, which is tolerant and peace loving.
“We unequivocally condemn this action by the Maharashtra government and the heavy handedness of the police against the silent peaceful protesters, who does nothing when the goons of the ‘Maharastra Navnirman Sena’ go on rampage and destroy property and threaten and kill innocent people. This has been possible only because of the inaction and late action with weak judicial process and no use of force against the criminal offenders and offences of MNS by the State. On the other hand, the utter disregard for the democratic rights of the citizens (in particular the freedom of peaceful public protest) by the government need to be condemned. “We demand strict legal action against the leaders and activists of MNS who are the real threat to the plural, secular and democratic framework of the country”, declared the activists, unanimously.
The protestors included film makers Anand Patwardhan and Seemanthini Dhuru, Medha Patkar, Mukta Srivastava and others of NAPM/NBA; Dolfy D’Souza and others of Bombay Catholic Sabha, Hasina Khan and others of Awaz-e-Niswan; Advocate Hasina Sanobar and others of Forum Against Opression of Women; Shyam Sonar and others of Republican Panthers, activists of Lok Raj Sanghatan, Maju Verghese, YUVA, Mohan Chavan of Shahar Vikas Manch, Pravin Yerunkar of Lok Jagaran Manch, and a few hundred others, including many from the toiling sections of the urban poor, who are the worst affected by any kind of communal violence, mostly belonging to Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan .
Pervin Jehangir (09820636335) Mukta Srivastava (9969530060) Simpreet Singh