Likening the Tuticorin police firing in which 13 people were killed to the Jallianwalah Bagh massacre, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad has said that courts should take cognisance of such incidents on their own and RPT ensure that they do not recur.
She said the High Courts and the Supreme Court very rarely use a powerful tool, the provision of ‘Suo Moto’ (on their or its own initiative, without external prompting or explicit demand). The last time that the Apex court used it was for the protection of the Himalayas, she said.
“Should the courts not intervene when gross injustices take place when people get killed when wrongful arrests take place?” she asked during a discussion over the Tuticorin incident here. Setalvad also alleged that there was a pattern of “repression” against protests and dissent in the country which exemplified the concept of fascism. She said that the May 22 incident in which 13 persons were killed in police firing in Tuticorin district was a blot on Indian democracy.
“It is as draconian as the Jallianwala Bagh incident in which General Dyer gunned down several protesters,” she said. Referring to the violence at Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra, rustication of JNU student Umar Khalid and arrest of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekar Azad, Setalvad alleged that there was repression against political activists, creative people, young leaders, dissenters and most importantly people’s movements against things like the acquisition of land and forests.
“Across different states, we are seeing this pattern. If we want to fight this fascism and bring a political alternative, it is important that all those who are agitating put these issues upfront,” Setalvad said. “If we want a sustainable opposition to the fascist powers, then we want an opposition that looks into why there should be enforcement of Section 144 in cities all the time and why can’t we have a more humane police,” she said, adding that space for protests and dissent were shrinking. During the discussion, organised by CPI(M), a book titled ‘Thoothukudi Agitation: Government’s Violence’ was also released by senior counsel N G R Prasad.