09/04/2018, 12.10
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Fr. Cedric Prakash on India's most infamous day when activists were arrested

Intellectuals arrested for fighting for the rights of the Dalits and criticizing the Hindu nationalist government. The aim of the police raids is to polarize the political debate in view of the general elections of 2019. Against activists, "fabricated accusations". "It's a nightmare situation, which has no equal".

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - August 28th was "one of the most infamous days in India” roundly states Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, communications director for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Mena region (Middle East and North Africa).

On that night in various cities of India, five famous activists were arrested for their battle in favor of the rights of the Dalits and having criticized the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi for its discriminatory policies against the weakest and minorities.

The priest complains that the crackdown on intellectuals critical of the premier serves a single purpose: to polarize the political debate in view of the general elections of 2019. He also declares: "Silence is complicity and consensus! The people of India must wake up now, resist strongly and act together, to ensure that all Indians enjoy the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution ".

The arrest of intellectuals continues to polarize public debate in the country. According to the Jesuit, the searches conducted by the agents were carried out "to produce evidence". The Pune police in Maharashtra, which issued the search warrants, and "other leaders, have done everything to provide a whole range of 'reasons' to justify their actions: among them, that activists foment violence; they sympathize with illegal Maoist groups; plot the murder of the prime minister; they are 'urban Naxalites' [the term 'naxalite' indicates the Maoist guerrilla activists in northeastern India, ed]; they are intolerant towards the current political system, and so on ".

Fr. Prakash replies to the accusations: "All the five arrested are eminent human rights activists who have for several years have worked within the Constitution of India and taken up cudgels on behalf of the poor, marginalized and excluded of the country. They are all intellectuals by their own right, who have contributed significantly to the country. They have fought battles in courts; helped organise people (particularly the adivasis and the dalits) to fight for their legitimate rights; consistently exposed the nexus between the politicians and their powerfully rich friends and above all been working for a society which is more just, equitable and humane. In doing so they have also raised the hackles of the BJP, RSS and their ilk, who obviously have not taken things lightly."

Fr. Prakash says the raids are the revenge of the nationalists, who, instead of being arrested for the violence last January in the Dalit demonstration, have gone unpunished. "There is no doubt - he continues - on the fact that India lives in a period that is worse than emergency situations. A fascist regime, composed of murderers and accomplice with corrupt, capitalists and people with personal interests, gets away with impunity, even if they systematically corrode all that is sacred in the Constitution. " Citing the words of the intellectual Nayantara Sahgal, Fr. Prakash reports that anyone who does not "fit in with the ideology of the RSS [Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh, Hindu ultra-nationalist paramilitary group]" risks being killed, "people are subjected to interrogation by sedition and anti-national attitude. It is a nightmare situation, which is unparalleled ".

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