Hyderabad: The Telangana government on Friday banned 16 organisations, including the Revolutionary Writers Association, known as Virasam, claiming that these are frontal bodies of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and are engaged in “tactics” that “wage war against the state”. The order was passed by chief secretary Somesh Kumar, with effect from March 30 this year.
According to the government order, the 16 banned organisations that have been declared “unlawful” are the : Telangana Praja Front, Telangana Asanghatitha Karmika Samkhya, Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika, Democratic Students Organisation, Telangana Vidyarthi Sangham, Adivasi Students Union, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, Telangana Raithanga Samithi, Tudum Debba, Praja Kala Mandali, Telangana Democratic Front, Forum Against Hindu Fascism Offensive, Civil Liberties Committee, Amarula Bandhu Mitrula Sangham, Chaitanya Mahila Sangham and the Revolutionary Writers Association.
The banning of these organisations is likely to raise many questions. The state government in its order alleged that activists from these “unlawful” organisations are “moving in urban areas and adopting “urban guerilla tactics”, which in itself is rather vague. Moreover, the GO also says that members of the 16 groups are “alluring” others and recruiting them through “inflammatory” statements, rallies and meetings, to “raise issues against the Central and State governments”.
The GO also clearly states that the organisations are also being banned for demanding the release of Prof. GN Sai Baba, Rona Wilson, and writer Vara Vara Rao (who is from Virasam), who are all currently in prison with regard to the Elgar Parishad case, on allegations of conspiring to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, it may be noted that a Washington Post investigation has found that evidence was in fact planted in Wilson’s laptop to falsely implicate people in the case.
The GO also stated that all the 16 organisations were involved in protests demanding the repeal of the new farm laws, the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). All three issues had become major flash points of protest against the Central government, which faced flak for the way it dealt with the protests. It may however be noted that merely protesting against laws, is part our fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution.
According to the state government, all the 16 banned organisations are functioned at the behest of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), whose members are called Naxalites. CPI-M cadres are spread across the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and some other places. It is to be seen how these organisations, especially the Revolutionary Writers Organisation, reacts, given that its members are well-known among the general public as writers who speak against the establishment.
What the Supreme Court says about banned organisations:
The Supreme Court, however, maintains that mere membership of any banned organization is not sufficient to deem a person to be a criminal. “In our opinion, Section 3(5) cannot be read literally as otherwise it will violate Articles 19 9(free speech) and 21 (liberty) of the Constitution.
It has to be read in the light of our observations made above. Hence, mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence,” a bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said in an order from 2011.