This refers to the advertisement war unleashed by the Union Home Ministry in the print media against the Maoists. The advertisement which appeared on September 20 in all national dailies was not only vicious and vindictive, but was easily the most irresponsible in recent times. Has the executive arrogated to itself the functions of the judicature? The advertisement is calculated to prejudice not only the public mind but also the courts before which many prosecutions of the so-called “naxals” (sic) are pending. It is as if the Ministry is treating its distasteful depiction of corpses as a substitute for evidence in those trials.
In this way the state has abandoned all pretence to observance of the principles of natural justice according to which no one should be a judge in his own cause and no person or group should be condemned unheard.
The advertisement also attempts to efface from the public mind widespread killings by the police, the paramilitary forces, and the State-supported Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, as well as the innumerable fake encounters in which these forces have engaged across the country. The advertisement is clearly meant to desensitise the public to the huge casualties among innocent civilians which are now inevitable.
There is a fundamental contradiction between the rule of law underlying the Constitution and the lawless use of force that the state is contemplating.
Shereen F. Ratnagar & others,
Mumbai, Goa, Vadodara, Dehradun & New Delhi