THOUSANDS of people participated in the human chain programme held on September 15, 2021, in various parts of the state demanding the release of the accused of the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case. These actions also demanded the repeal of UAPA and draconian acts also. The call for a human chain programme was given by the joint platform of Left, Democratic, Periyarist, Ambedkarite, Progressive organisations of Tamil Nadu - ‘Movement for the Release of Prisoners of Bhima Koregaon conspiracy – Tamil Nadu and Puducherry’. This forum was formed at the initiative of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF).
INITIATIVE OF TNUEF
On August 22, TNUEF convened an online meeting involving various organisations of the people as mentioned above. In the meeting, a state-level human chain programme was decided for September 15.
Similar exercises were there at the district level and various organisations functioning at regional/ district/ local levels were also included. Plans were drawn in all the districts for the campaign among the people. Coming together of various organisations in a short span of time reflected pent up anger at the ground level against attacks on democracy unleashed by Modi government. Issues of common people like price rise, vaccine shortages, corporate loot, attacks on the public sector were also highlighted.
CAMPAIGN AMONG THE MASSES
The campaign has been undertaken throughout the state and drew a good response from the public.
Thousands of leaflets were printed and widely circulated across the state. Various digital posters were designed and video messages greeting the programme were circulated on social media. With a spirit to make the human chain a success, district-level preparatory meetings were organised involving all the constituents of the joint platform. Many leaders of Ambedkarite and Periyarist movements appreciated the initiative of TNUEF and actively participated in organising the human chain.
The joint forum approached political parties also for their support and participation. Parties including CPI (M), CPI, VCK responded positively and prominent leaders of the same consented to take part in the human chain which gave wider attention to the programme.
On September 15th many parts of Tamil Nadu witnessed the activists with different colours of flags including those of youth, students, women, movements organised in the main places of the cities and small towns with posters, placards and banners.
Almost all the other districts had human chain programmes. Some of the districts had programmes in many centres. More than 50 organisations participated in the struggle. Hundreds of people participated in every centre. The participation crossed 1,000 in some districts like Chennai, Tiruppur and Madurai. In Chennai, it was held in three places; Balakrishnan, state general secretary of CPI(M), M Veerapandian from CPI, P Sampath (TNUEF) and VanniArasu from VCK took part. At Karaikudi TholTirumavalavan MP and founder chairman of VCK and K Samuelraj (TNUEF) participated in the human chain.
The following is the message from the family members and friends of the prisoners of the Bhima Koregaon case
“As family members and friends of BK-16, the social activists imprisoned under the draconian UAPA in the false Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, we are very much heartened by the proposed action today to form a human chain in Tamil Nadu asking for their release. We firmly believe that their arrests are politically motivated and carried out solely in order to silence their voices and punish them for opposing this government’s anti-people and repressive policies.
We are firmly opposed to the application of draconian laws like UAPA, since historically such laws have never countered any terrorist activity, but have been used by successive governments to stymie inconvenient protestors and criminalise the weaker sections of society. We note with dismay that many state governments have formulated their own laws which also carry draconian sections of restricting bail and extending pre-trial detentions and criminalising ordinary activities on the basis of tenuous evidence. We stand with national civil liberties groups in opposing these laws as contrary to the provisions of our constitution.
We are aware that the 16 accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case are but a few of the people wrongly incriminated under the casteist, communal and unfair criminal justice system of this country. In each state, there are scores of people in prison because of false charges and fake investigations, merely because these people have stood up against the injustices of the state and followed their own conscience. We call for their release also.
While we are unable to join you in person, we are completely with you in spirit and stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you resisting the injustices today!”