‘Thousands of people are languishing in jails booked under sedition charges’

With a number of their members and other ‘dissenting’ citizens being slapped with sedition cases, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) will collect 10 lakh signatures to pressure the Parliament to repeal existing sedition laws.

Addressing presspersons on Sunday after the National Conclave of PUCL here, Binayak Sen, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for alleged links with Maoists, stood testimony to the misuse of these laws. “Though my case has hit the news, and I have got bail after being convicted for life under sedition, there are thousands of people across the country, who are languishing in jails,” Dr. Sen, who is providing medical aid to tribals, said.

National General Secretary V. Suresh said the signature campaign would create awareness among the public about the misuse of sedition laws (Section 124 (a) of IPC). “Even though we have a democratic set up, the Indian government is yet to repeal the laws; while, Britain which had introduced sedition laws here, have repealed it in their country,” he said, adding that the organisation has begun the process of accumulating data on sedition cases to strengthen their argument.

Report on UP violence

Meanwhile, the organisation will constitute a national fact-finding committee to analyse the causes and effect of the recent communal violence in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. The members said communal violence was increasing in an effort to polarise voters before the general elections in 2014.

Among the four major resolution passed during the PUCL conclave are: creating awareness among people to reclaim an “embattled” democracy; address the issues of communal violence; creating a human rights mandate that should be adhered to by political parties; and pressuring the government to plug loopholes in the Food Security Bill, such as increasing rations provided and providing incentives to farmers to increase their produce.

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