1562 Signatures in One Day: Here's Why Civil Society Stands with Roy and Hussain

Petition to Condemn Government's Actions Against Activists Gains Momentum
Roy and Hussain are facing charges under the UAPA for opinions expressed at a 2010 seminar on Kashmiri self-determination, which criticized the Indian state's actions.
Roy and Hussain are facing charges under the UAPA for opinions expressed at a 2010 seminar on Kashmiri self-determination, which criticized the Indian state's actions.

New Delhi- A petition initiated by 'Concerned Citizens for Democracy' is rapidly gaining support on Change.org, as social media users rally behind two prominent activists, Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Shaukat Hussain. The petition, titled "A Petition to Condemn the Government and its Persecution of Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Shaukat Hussain," calls for the withdrawal of charges against the activists and the rejection of draconian laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The recent 18th Lok Sabha election results sent a clear message of dissent to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), yet the party, now in its third term, continues to exhibit its authoritarian stance by criminalizing dissent.

The first targets in their renewed campaign are celebrated Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy and former professor of international law at the Central University of Kashmir, Sheikh Shaukat Hussain, reads the campaign note.

Arundhati Roy is well-known for her outspoken criticism of government policies on social justice, including issues concerning Kashmir and tribal rights. Sheikh Shaukat Hussain, a respected academic, has similarly been vocal in his opposition. Both are now facing charges under the UAPA for opinions expressed at a 2010 seminar on Kashmiri self-determination, which criticized the Indian state's actions.

The UAPA is a controversial law that has been frequently used over the past decade to suppress opposition and instill fear across India. Critics argue that it undermines constitutional values by stifling free speech and criminalizing dissent.

The petition argues that the government's actions send a "clear and sinister message" to the general public and civil society organizations.

However, despite a decade of oppressive tactics, civil society has persisted in its efforts to uphold democratic values. The recent election results have emboldened these efforts, with citizens pushing back against the government's restrictive measures.

Key demands of the petition include:

  • Withdrawal of Charges: An immediate call to drop all charges against Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Shaukat Hussain.

  • Rejection of the UAPA: A demand to repeal the law, which allows indefinite incarceration without due process and labels dissenters as terrorists.

  • Safeguarding Democracy: Protecting the democratic rights of citizens to mobilize public opinion and engage in activism.

  • Defense of Free Speech: Upholding the right to free speech and dissent as fundamental to a functioning democracy.

Since its launch on June 21, the petition has garnered 1,713 signatures, with a next goal of reaching 2,500.

This surge in support reflects a growing public outcry against the perceived erosion of democratic freedoms in India.

The petition has gained traction across various social media platforms, with users expressing solidarity and encouraging others to sign. As the petition continues to gather signatures, it underscores the resilience of India's civil society and the ongoing struggle to protect democratic values in the face of governmental overreach.

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