Lenin Kumar Roy, the editor of Nishan, a Left oriented quarterly magazine published from Bhuvaneshwar (Orissa state in India) was arrested on 7 December 2008 around 1-1.30 pm and sent to jail on charges of writing provocative literature which as per the police version and the official report would disturb communal peace and harmony.
The police did not stop here.
It also arrested two employees of Sovan Press, Bhubaneswar, after conducting a raid on it for printing the book 'Dharma naanre Kandhamalre Raktara Nadi' published by Lenin Kumar. This was done at the Sahid Nagar Police Station.
When the activists came to know of this from Mrs Rumita Kundu, Lenin's wife, they contacted the officer in-charge of police station in the night who told them that he had been picked up for verification and he would be released within one hour or so.
In the meantime, the police was planning something nefarious. They were writing down documents preparing grounds for his so-called “Maoist links”. The said book was alleged to be 'Maoist literature'. Next day, he was produced in the court and the police alleged crime under Section 153-A and 295-A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) which relate to 'publishing provocative literature which can disturb communal peace and harmony'. The police cited page 38 to 41 of the above book. And what do those pages have in them? They produce a letter allegedly written by the RSS (Hindu right-wing fundamentalist group) to its members for anti dalit, anti minority activities and also have some of Lenin's comments on this.
So, in India (and particularly in Orissa) it is a crime to write anything against the RSS or to produce an RSS letter or to comment upon it- more so if the government is supported by the BJP!
But the actual reason goes even more deeper. In reality, Lenin had become a pain in the neck for the Navin Patnaik government which has completely failed in protecting the minority rights in the Kandhamal episode and has proved to be blatantly partisan and completely ineffective on law and order front. Unfortunately, he has been consistently raising voice of dissent for last one year or so in the pages of Nissan on all these related matters, a fact that was to great distaste of the establishment, be it the Chief Minister and his party or the supporting ally BJP. In August 2008, Nishan was labeled as a Maoist organ by SP Jagatsinghpur though the editor had protested this allegation.
This is not the lone instance of the Orissa government coming up heavily against the dissenting members of the intelligentsia and the media who are critical about the government's activities. A few months ago, Rabindra Prasad Panda, a prominent Oriya writer, was sent to jail by the Orissa government for writing a book, using similar Sections of the IPC.
Thus as the NDTV has rightly said- “Orissa cops have taken the term gag order to a new level altogether.”
I am never able to understand what does the police force in this Nation want to prove by arresting people like Lenin Ray. Is it not completely shameful and highly deplorable and atrocious? What is Lenin's fault- that he writes Maoist literature, that he speaks the language of Marxism, Leninism and Communism? Is this a free country we are living in?
I don't think there can be anything more condemnable than this- to arrest a magazine's Editor just because he sympathizes for a cause which every right-minded must be and internally is. I have not seen any sensitive person in the world who is not sympathetic to the poor and the downtrodden, who does not want all these differences and economic disparities and exploitations to end, who wants every person to be able to live a good life.
While the police force of this country is completely helpless before the terrorists and the extremists who kill them whenever they feel like, they never leave a chance to arrest such law-abiding and righteous persons who have a definite purpose in their life and are sacrificing it for the common man.
I don't know what will happen to our country where such local dictators who only want bards and sycophants around them. While it can be the case with the political persons, how can this be true also with the intellectuals and the Media? Is this the way our Constitution makers had envisaged our Chief Ministers and governments to behave? The Media is known as the fourth estate and the watchdog of a democratic society. But can any society function properly if its chosen representatives are so intolerant, biased, personally stymied and spiteful as to pursue matters on a personal level and stop any person from expressing his/her views.
Lenin's arrest is a blot on our society and must be resisted by each one of us as an example of complete dictatorship. Is this a free Nation?
Dr Nutan Thakur
(The author is the editor of 'Nutan Satta Pravah' and also represents Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences (IRDS) in Lucknow. She can be contacted at: [email protected])