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Update:  Mayl 11, 2002                                                                                                   <<< News Network index page

Protest Statement Against the Crackdown on the Students, Youths
and Cultural Activists at Faizabad, UP

From: radhika menon <
[email protected]>
Subject: Police crackdown at Faizabad on Sadbhavana March
Date: 11 May 2002 22:40

We the undersigned, condemn the arrest of students, youth and  other activists of All India Students Association, Revolutionary  Youth Association and Jan Sanskriti Manch who had assembled in  Faizabad to observe the anniversary of 1857 Revolt. The students  and youth who had converged, from all over the country for a two day programme to reclaim the secular history of Ayodhya on 10th  and 11th of May had been prevented by the District Administration  from taking out a Sadbhavana March and organising a Shaheed Mela  and Convention for an amicable solution of the Ayodhya issue.

This is a blatant violation of the democratic rights of the citizens to organise campaigns and movements for peace and harmony. It is a shame that it has become illegal to organise programmes in memory of 1857 and remember the secular struggles of our freedom fighters even while VHP is being allowed to hold the twin city of Ayodhya and Faizabad to ransom on communal grounds and openly violate court orders.

The unreasoned and last minute withdrawal of permission for the Sadbhavana March, Shaheed Mela and Convention and subsequent crackdown on participants is a clear pointer to the fact that the BSP Chief Minister is acting at the behest of the communal forces spearheaded by the Sangh Parivar. This has serious implications for the democratic process in the state.

We demand immediate release of all activists and leaders and restoration of democratic order in the state.

NB: Consent to this statement has already been received from - Prabhash Joshi, Manglesh Dabral, Sumit Chakraborty, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Anuradha Chenoy and Surendra Mohan.

NB: Send this protest statement for more signatures and consents.

11 May, 2002

"Ayodhya Chalo" programme organised by All India Students Association (AISA), Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) and Jan Sanskriti Manch on 10-11 May'02 on the anniversary of the 1857 Revolt to reclaim the secular legacy of Faizabad-Ayodhya met with uncalled for and unprecedented crackdown by the UP govt.

The two-day programme of 10-11 May included a Sadbhavana March and Shaheed Mela (on 10 May) to uphold the anti-imperialist and secular legacy of 1857 martyrs belonging to the Awadh Faizabad region. This was to be followed by an "Ayodhya Convention" on 11th May to explore the possibility of an amicable solution to the Ayodhya issue. The entire programme had all the necessary permissions and venue booking from the District Administration of Faizabad.

But without any meaningful reason cited, the administration cancelled the permission at the last moment and withdrew all the bookings. This happened when thousands of students, youth, women activists and cultural personalities had already converged to Faizabad. Clearly, this was a political decision taken at the highest level in the state and happened at the behest of the communal forces spearheaded by the Sangh Parivar.

On 10th May when Sadbhavana Rally started, police arrested more than thousand processionists including AISA's National President Kavita Krishnan and RYA's General Secretary Lal Bahadur Singh.

They are still under arrest in jails of Mau and Sultanpur. Inspite of this crackdown, the organisers proceeded with the Convention scheduled for 11th May. Though the original venue was cancelled, local support helped them organise the Convention at the Faizabad Press Club. The Convention started on 11th May at the Press Club in a situation of massive police siege. The police kept on threatening to arrest the participants throughout the process.

When the Convention was more or less through, police entered the venue and snatched away the mikes in a bid to disrupt the event. But the Convention was duly concluded by passing several resolutions (summary of which are appended below). But after the Convention was over, six persons were arrested arbitrarily which included Dr. Suvendhu Ghosh (Head of the Deptt. of Biophysics, Delhi University, and well known singer and cultural activist), Student leaders from JNU Radhika Menon and Inteshar Ahmad, All India Progressive Women Association leaders from UP Ajanta Lohit and Snehalata, AISA leader from Lucknow University Kaushal
Kishore. Dr. Suvendhu Ghosh was also assaulted by the police. They are in Faizabad jail.

We appeal to you to protest against this absolutely uncalled for crackdown on this programme, whose basic purpose was to uphold our secular legacy and strive for peace and harmony. We appeal to you to join 'Citizen's Protest March' on Monday, 13 May '02 at Jantar-Mantar at 11 AM.


1. The Convention condemned in strongest of terms the banning of 'Sadbhavana March' and 'Shaheed Mela' organised on 10 May at Faizabad to uphold the legacy of united Hindu-Muslim resistance in the 1857 struggle for independence. The ban was politically motivated and was implemented by the Mayawati govt. at the behest
of RSS-BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal. The Convention considered the ban on this peaceful and democratic programme as a major attack on our minimum democratic rights and freedom and vowed to fight it back.

2. The Convention appealed to every common citizen to stand up and be counted in the effort to separate religion from politics. The Convention expressed confidence than once such communal elements as VHP-Bajrang Dal and other outfits of the Sangh Parivar are pushed out of the Ayodhya tangle, India's civil society has enough strength to sort out the issue amicably. Whether it is a court verdict or an out-of-court solution, the Convention believe that it is only a conscious and active mass movement committed to the cause of secularism which can ensure a just solution. And in this effort it would be welcome if various citizens, including such religious leaders of both communities, jurists and historians who declare their firm commitment to the principles of separation of
religion and politics, were to form a panel to explore solutions to the Ayodhya issue through mutual dialogue.

3. The Convention urged upon Chief Minister Mayawati not to play second fiddle to BJP and reinitiate the cases (earlier struck down on technical grounds) against L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharati and others accused of Babri Masjid demolition.

4. The Convention demanded sacking of Modi govt. responsible for the state-sponsored cleansing of minorities in Gujarat, trial of all the guilty leaders and police officials and resignation of Home Minister LK Advani. The Convention decided to join the Rashtriya Ekta Abhiyan conducted by the left and democratic forces in the country and appealed to every democratic and peace loving citizen to be a part of this struggle.

The declaration was signed among others by Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya (General Secretary, CPI (ML), Prof. MK Sherwani (All India Muslim Forum), Md. Salim Khan Pirzada (Indian Muslim Political Conference), Krishnavatar Pandey (former Education Director, UP and PUHR), Chittaranjan Singh (PUCL), Balram Yadav (Senior Advocate, Allahabad High Court, Lucknow Bench), Onkar Nath Patel (noted journalist), Sandip Pandey (NAPM).

Ranjit Abhigyan, Ph. 222 1067.
Tapas Ranjan, Ph. 786 6410.
Radhika Menon,
[email protected]


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