December 11, 2010 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Ludhiana (December 10, 2010 – SSN): While observing Human Rights Day, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani) today organized a seminar on “Human Rights and Democracy in Punjab”, which was attended by eminent human rights activists, lawyers, leaders of various political and social organizations, who resolved after considering the views of speakers that ‘systematic and widespread’ violation of human rights is taking place in the state. In another resolution adopted after the debate says that Punjab Government is allegedly misusing ‘process of law’ to target political opponents. The seminar was presided over by a Presidium, comprising Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Harpal Singh Cheema, Bibi Parmjeet Kaur Khalra and Jagjeet Singh Lyalpuri and was addressed by Advocate D. S. Gill, Navkiran Singh, Rajwinder Singh Bains, Kulwant Singh Grewal and Dr. Jeevanjot Kaur.
Rajwinder Singh Bains, senior lawyer of Punjab and Haryana High Court, said that there was no legal base for charging Sikh leader Bhai Daljeet Singh Bittu, Chairman of Panch Pardhani, under infamous UL(P) Act 1967. While claiming that the arrest of Daljeet Singh Bittu is motivated by reasons other than legal, Bains claimed that he was detained since last thirteen months by misusing process of law. He said that police and prosecution has failed to present even any evidence against Daljeet Singh Bittu and his case presents a perfect illustration that how the laws were misused in Punjab against political opponents to suppress dissenting political ideologies.
Advocate Navkiran Singh shared his view on importance of freedom of speech and expression, as one of the basic human rights. While discussing challenges presented the State to this freedom, he also referred to sedition cases registered against Sikh leaders in Punjab.
Advocate D. S. Gill discussed overall political situation of Punjab and explained its’ ill-effects on the process of protection and promotion of human rights. Advocate Kuldeep Singh Grewal discussed that how the successive governments in Punjab have initiated and followed a process to deprive people of their right to disapprove harmful actions of state through expression of opinion or by holding and organizing peaceful protests.
Dr. Jeevanjot Kaur analysed the social problems of female foeticide, farmers’ suicide, drug addiction and drug trafficking from the point of human rights and called for combined initiative to be taken at government and social level.
After the completion of seminar, leaders and activists of Panch Pardhani, along with others, participating in the seminar, held a symbolic and peaceful protest in front of DC office Ludhiana and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Governor of Punjab through the Deputy Commissioner.
Resolutions Adopted during Seminar:
It is prime responsibility of the State and its’ authorities to respect and safeguard Human Rights of all, and at the same time, it is also a fact that the State and its’ authorities pose major threat of violation of these rights. At present, in Punjab, systematic and widespread violation of Human Rights is taking place at the hands of State authorities. Rule of Law is being violated and process is law is being misused by state authorities, especially the police and the state has eventually been turned into a Police State. Illegal detentions, enforced disappearances, custodial deaths, misusing process of law to suppress political opponents or those holding dissenting opinions, false charges of sedition and use of other similar tactics are cause of concern for the civil society, as they are resulting in gross abuse of Human Rights. Thus, this gathering of Lawyers, Human Rights activists, students, intellectuals, representatives of various social, religious and political organizations; while strongly criticizing this process, resolve to pressurise the State authorities, through civil awareness campaigns and other democratic means, to end these inhumane practices and restore respect for Human Rights.
Cases framed by the Punjab Police against Sikh leader Daljeet Singh Bittu, Chairman of Shiromani Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani), present a clear instance of misuse of process of law for suppressing political opponents and dissenting political ideologies. In a democratic society no criminal charge should be framed, against a leader, for holding, supporting, furthering and propagating any political ideology for the furtherance of cause of his people, through democratic and peaceful means; for lending a helping hand to the needy by paying school fees of orphans of state-terrorism or for paying counselling fees to the lawyers of under-trials; for organizing memorial gatherings in the memory of those killed in fake encounters or during enforced disappearances or by police and other armed forces of the State or of human rights activists killed by police for voicing for human rights; for meeting the families of victims of state oppression; for organizing religious conferences; for supporting the cause of farmers victimized by forcible land accusations by government for purposes other than common and public purpose; for organizing or helping to organize seminar on social, religious or political issues and for paying advertisement fees to the newspapers for general advertisements regarding political/religious functions. Ironically Daljeet Singh Bittu is charged by Punjab Police under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 for these (“unlawful”?) activities. This gathering strongly believes that he is arrested and detained just for political reasons therefore; this gathering condemns his arrest and detention, and resolve to submit a memorandum to the Governor of Punjab, asking withdrawal of false charges against Daljeet Singh Bittu, and his immediate release.
It is democratic right of the people to disapprove any State practise or action by expression of opinion or by means of peaceful and democratic demonstrations or protests. But the State has limited this right to such an extent that it has lost its’ significance. It is derogatory that Punjab Government has framed new laws, and has amended existing laws, that would seriously curb the freedom of expression of opinion. Moreover the successive Governments of the are following a systematic course to deprive people from holding meaningful protests to seek resolution of their grievances or to disapprove its’ actions. This gathering disapproves this practise and call upon the people to oppose it, as it amounts to the murder of democratic values.
This gathering considers that every person has right to take birth, irrespective of sex values. Any practise aimed at preventing birth of a particular sex is inhumane and must be disapproved.
The State and its’ authorities have categorically failed to prevent the problem of farmer’s suicide and curse of drug trafficking and drug addiction, which is sweeping away two major streams of the society, namely farmers and the youth. The gathering considers that the prime responsibility lies with the State, which must address these problem and find the appropriate solution. The society also needs to take initiatives to prevent female foeticide, farmers’ suicides and drug addiction and trafficking.
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