NCP leader Supriya Sule called it “unfortunate” that anyone who speaks against the government is termed an “anti-national”. The MP was speaking at a press conference held virtually by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) attended by CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, DMK’s K. Kanimozhi and INC’s Shashi Tharoor.
The meet was organised in the wake of the arrest of 83-year-old tribal rights activist from Jharkhand Stan Swamy. Sule said, “I grew up in an India that was liberal, where we could raise our voice. It is unfortunate that anytime anyone speaks against the government, he is called an anti-national."
Speaking in the context of the Bhima-Koregaon arrests, she said that people who had contributed to India’s literature and poetry are being harassed and the central government is taking the extreme step of putting them in jail. "Democratic voices are completely crushed by the central government," she said.
Regarding Swamy, she said she had spoken with the state’s home minister the previous day. She is also directly in touch with the family of Varavara Rao, the MP said.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said Acts like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), National Security Act (NSA) and sedition need to go from the statute book. He called the Bhima-Koregaon case not an isolated one, but "part of a larger agenda to pave the way for a rabidly intolerant, theocratic and fascist Hindu Rashtra”
Yechury referred to the Delhi-riots and said that the victims are being charged and the perpetrators are roaming free. The Home Minister is shielding culprits, he said. Tharoor in a video message played during the meet, called the arrest of 83-year-old Swamy “shocking” and said he stands in solidarity with Swamy and with fairness to an old human being, Swamy must be released on bail.
D. Raja of the CPI(M) said the BJP in power controlled by the RSS wants to convert the nation into a theocratic state and called the present government “ruthless”, which “doesn’t believe in democracy”.
Senior advocate Mihir Desai, who represents some of the accused in the case and is Vice-President, PUCL, said that the NIA’s allegation that there was a plot to kill the Prime Minister has “no mention” in the chargesheet it has filed recently. “That fiction seems to be given up. NIA can be given a Nobel Prize for Literature,” he added.