Statement Condemning The Attack On Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj

Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj

We the undersigned wish to place on record our utter disgust, contempt and outrage at the latest in the series of machinations by Republic TV, working to its brief as a propagandist for the ongoing crusade against all those who take public stands in defence of democracy, secularism, human rights, Constitutional propriety and rule of law.

Republic TV’s latest target is Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, National Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Vice President of the Indian Association of Progressive Lawyers and Visiting Professor at the National Law University Delhi. She is widely-known for her three decades of work as a trade unionist, human rights defender, environmental lawyer and a respected advisor to several state institutions including the state legal aid bodies and the National Human Rights Commission.

According to Republic TV, this committed and dedicated lawyer and activist is an “urban Maoist” who is “plotting to break India” with separatist groups and armed guerrillas across the country. The basis for the long list of scurrilous allegations and malicious insinuations against Advocate Bharadwaj is a letter purported to be written by her that Republic TV claims it has accessed.

The provenance of this letter is not revealed and we are not told how it came into the possession of Republic TV. The language of the letter is crude and clumsy, with the supposed author self-identifying as “Comrade Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj” and mentioning the names of various known and unknown individuals who are meticulously addressed as “Comrades”. The contents – or rather, what Republic TV claims are the contents – are supposed to establish a “sensational” connection between the Kashmiri separatists, “urban Naxals”, students from JNU and TISS, and others who take public stands against the anti-people policies of the state. According to Republic TV, these are “incontrovertible and unquestionable facts” that cannot be questioned.

Based on the telecast, the alleged letter belongs to the shoddy archive of similar “documentary proofs” that are regularly leaked to the press by investigation agencies eager to pin various “crimes” onto activists, leaders of people’s movements, political opponents, human rights  defenders, critics of government policies and other citizens who are exercising their legitimate rights to free speech, dissent and political action.

The frenzied propagation by Republic TV of these concocted allegations and invented charges against known critics of the ruling party is clearly aimed at blurring the lines between evidence and allegation, accusation and proof, coincidence and causality in the mind of viewers who do not have access to multiple sources of information. Equally dangerous is the creation and demonisation of virulent labels like “urban naxals” and “tukde-tukde gang”, which gain currency solely by virtue of insistent repetition and circulation, despite being legally, factually and politically untenable.

The lethal consequences of this shameless manipulation of public opinion are today visible in the form of the targeted lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and others identified as criminals based on malevolent WhatsApp messages and videos.

Ludicrous though this attack on Advocate Bharadwaj may seem, it is also a signal of the widening dragnet being used to establish absolute control over all institutions and spaces of governance. We call on all responsible people to condemn and expose this attack as the latest attempt by the Modi sarkar and its embedded propagandists in the media to bypass democratic institutions, undermine the rule of law, stifle all voices of dissent and crush all those who seek to question or challenge their autocratic rule.

We also call on media bodies, professional associations and senior journalists to come out and condemn practitioners of this form of toxic, unethical and malicious “journalism”.

(Signed)

1. Kritika A, activist
2. Ammu Abraham, activist
3. Nancy Adajania, curator and writer
4. Dr Albertina Almeida, Advocate and human rights activist
5. Dr Sadhna Arya, Delhi University
6. Manshi Asher, environmental activist
7. Prof Amita Baviskar, Institute of Economic Growth
8. Parijata Bhardwaj, Advocate, Supeme Court of India
9. Dr Shilpi Bhattacharya, OP Jindal Global University
10. Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, Supreme Court of india
11. Dr Nisha Biswas, scientist and activist
12. Dr Neera Burra, writer and historian
13. Runu Chakraborthy, activist
14. Prof Uma Chakravarthy, feminist historian
15. Anil Chamadiya, journalist
16. Bijaya Chanda, Advocate and human rights activist, APDR
17. Prof CP Chandrasekhar, JNU
18. Uma V Chandru, IIACD
19. Anil Chaudhary, PEACE
20. Ashok Chaudhury, NUFPFW
21. Pranav K Chaudhary, journalist and activist
22. Dr Yug Mohit Chaudhary, Advocate, Bombay High Court
23. Prof Anuradha Chenoy, JNU
24. Prof Kamal Chenoy, JNU
25. Dr Vanessa Chisti, OP Jindal Global University
26. Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor, Commonwealth Human Rights Network
27. Padma Deosthali, researcher and writer
28. Mihir Desai, Senior AdvocateBombay High Court
29. Prof Ganesh Devy, scholar and activist
30. Prof Ritu Dewan, feminist economist
31. Saba Dewan, filmmaker
32. Deepa Dhanraj, Filmmaker
33. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM
34. Dr Gabriele Dietrich, Centre for Social Analysis
35. Brinelle Dsouza, TISS
36. Adsa Fatima, activist
37. Professor Sabeena Gadihoke, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, filmmaker
38. Prof Jayati Ghosh, JNU
39. Professor Shohini Ghosh, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, filmmaker
40. Viji Ghosh, journalist
41. Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India
42. Sujata Gothoskar, activist
43. Purnima Gupta, feminist activist
44. Dr Smita Gupta, JNU
45. Githa Hariharan, writer
46. Prof Zoya Hasan, JNU
47. Rohini Hensman, writer
48. Ranjit Hoskote, curator and poet
49. Juhi Jain, writer and activist
50. Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and former Additional Solicitor General of India
51. Lara Jesani, Advocate, Mumbai High Court
52. Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker
53. Agnes Karshing, social activist
54. Archana Kaul, Srijanatmak Manushi Sanstha
55. Prof Ayesha Kidwai, JNU
56. Madhuri Krishnaswamy, JADS
57. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, lawyer and human rights activist
58. Freny Maneksha, independent journalist
59. Damodar Mauzo
60. Ritu Menon, publisher and writer
61. Dr Kalyani Menon-Sen, independent researcher and activist
62. Shamim Meghani Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sanghatana
63. Laxmi Murthy, journalist
64. Sarojini N, health activist
65. Ravi Nair, SAHRDC
66. Farah Naqvi, writer and activist
67. Aditya Nigam, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
68. Prof Sujata Patel, NIAS
69. Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker
70. Sandhya Phadke, activist
71. Pamela Philipose, journalist
72. Priya Pillai, environmental activist
73. Manasi Pingle, filmmaker
74. Dr Imrana Qadeer, health activist
75. Shobha Raghavan, activist
76. Annie Raja, General Secretary, National Federation of Indian Women
77. Vimala Ramachandran, Education Resource Unit
78. Admiral L Ramdas, anti-nuclear activist and former Navy Chief
79. Lalita Ramdas, activist
80. Anubha Rastogi, Advocate, Mumbai
81. Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
82. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre
83. Rahul Roy, filmmaker
84. Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM
85. Niti Saxena, activist
86. Geeta Seshu, journalist
87. Prof Abhijit Sen, JNU
88. Ardhendu Sen, IAS (retired)
89. Dr Ilina Sen, TISS
90. Dr Jhuma Sen, OP Jindal Global University
91. Orijit Sen, artist
92. Dr Rohini Sen, OP Jindal Global University
93. Prof Samita Sen, Jadavpur University
94. Dr Veena Shatrughna, former Deputy Director, NIN
95. Padmaja Shaw, researcher and writer
96. Dr Mira Shiva, health activist
97. Atamjit Singh, playwright, director and writer
98. Bhasha Singh, journalist
99. Nikita Sonavane, researcher and activist
100. Abhishek Srivastava, journalist
101. Dr Pankaj Srivastava, journalist
102. Malini Subramaniam, journalist
103. Prof Nandini Sundar, Delhi School of Economics
104. Pyoli Swatija, Advocate, Delhi
105. Swayam, Kolkata
106. Prashant Tandon, journalist
107. Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch Tamilnadu
108. Dr Achin Vanaik, writer and researcher
109. Dr Anish Vanaik, OP Jindal Global University
110. Anand Swaroop Varma, Editor Samkaleen Teesri Duniya
111. Vimochana, Bangalore
112. Prof Asghar Wajahat, writer, playwright and filmmaker17. Prof CP Chandrasekhar, JNU

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