Seema’s Conviction: An Attempt to Silence the Critical Democratic Voice

Disappearances, False cases, illegal allegations and detentions have become too common in the name of fighting Maoism and Terrorism in India. The most recent and shocking revelation was the conviction of Seema Azad and her husband Vihwa Vijay. Seema is a Journalist, editor of Dastak magazine and the PUCL Uttar Pradesh Organizing Secretary and her husband Vihwa Vijay,  has been a student union leader and activist of Inquilabi Chhaatra Morcha. They were convicted by a district court in Allahabad against charges of Waging War against Government of India, which is Section 121 according to the Indian Penal Code. Seema Azad and Vishwavijay were arrested by UPSTF in Allahabad on Feb 6, 2010 when Seema was returning from World Book Fair in Delhi and Vishwavijay had gone to receive her at the railway station. STF claimed to have recovered Maoist literature from their possession and also claimed that both were related to Maoist party. A penalty of Rs. 70,000 has been imposed upon this couple besides life imprisonment order on 8th of this June.

The charges are too harsh and their conviction is based on vague evidences. No concrete evidence has yet been presented to prove their connection with any terrorist organization or Maoist groups. If we go back in the history, this is the same Seema Azad who investigated the Ganga expressway project in detail that was looming large upon the farmer’s livelihood and shelter. She also came to lime light for her detailed reports on the witch-hunting of Muslim youths of Azamgarh. Seema and Vishwavijay mostly worked in the plains of Allahabad and Kaushambi where politico-mafia-police nexus is illegally mining sand, hoarding black money and in the process exploiting and harassing workers. The couple raised their voice against politico-mafia-police nexus that put them at the establishment’s target. Their activities could not be termed as illegal in any sense, never did they involve in any activity that was outside the preview of constitutional right to freedom of expression accorded to citizens of this country. 
 Senior Journalist Anand Swaroop Verma has been leading a campaign against the verdict in the Seema Azad case and arguing for her release. A large number of academics, journalists, and representatives of various social organizations have already pledged their support to campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of Seema Azad and her husband.
The conviction of Seema Azad and Vishwavijay is a threat upon the democratic setup of the country and has to be dealt with great passion. This is an attempt to silence protest against government policy. Seema was being targeted since she was a bold voice against the takeover of farmer’s lands and livelihood and was constantly exposing the reality of the witch-hunt of Muslim youth promoted by the government and its security establishment in Azamgarh. Is this the largest democracy of the world!!!
How can a country be democratic if its citizens aren’t guaranteed freedom of expression?
If your speech or action ever displeases the ‘men  in power’ , you might be put behind the bars.There are several youths who had been convicted on no proper grounds. 

On 26th June 2012, there is a meeting for the Convention on the Attack on the life and liberty of People taking place at 5 pm at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi, demanding the unconditional release of Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay and other prisoners who have been wrongly booked and detained under these draconian laws in the various jails of the country. This is an attempt to save few innocents lives that have been targeted. Today it was them, tomorrow it can be someone amongst us. Choice is yours, either wake up from the deepest of your slumber now or wait for your turn to come!!!

-Mayank Verma

SRM University, Chennai

Its NOW or NEVER!!

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