GOI’s action against INSAF: Statement for Endorsement

We the undersigned are shocked and dismayed at the Government of India’s action against INSAF, a national coalition of 700 people’s movements, social action groups and progressive intellectuals with an active presence in 15 States of India. According to a communication from the Home Ministry dated 30th April 2013, the INSAF bank account has been frozen because its activities are “prejudicial to the public interest”.

Over the last few years, INSAF has established its identity as a platform where independent and autonomous secular and democratic groups can come together in pursuit of their common aims of “protecting democracy, resisting iniquitous forms of globalisation and combating communalism”. INSAF members have been in the forefront of democratic protests against religious fundamentalism and communal violence. INSAF has consistently highlighted and opposed violations of human rights irrespective of whether they are perpetrated by state agencies, corporations or political parties. INSAF is noteworthy for its rapid response to human rights violations in remote and isolated areas of the country, bringing them to the attention of other groups and networks as well as making visible their connections to and impact on wider social, political and economic processes.
INSAF has made important interventions in public debates on issues of national concern including land grabs by Indian companies in Africa, violations of technical and statutory norms in respect of mining, deforestation and nuclear energy generation projects, in the deployment of “black laws” such as AFSPA against human rights defenders and with respect to State violence against Dalits, Adivasis and minority religious groups.

Far from being “prejudicial to the national interest”, INSAF’s work has expanded the space for those affected by state policies thereby helping them to bring their issues to national attention, and for those affected to claim their democratic right to intervene in and influence the course of national development.

INSAF has been among the most vocal critics of the recent changes in the legal and regulatory framework aimed at criminalising those who question the authority of the state or challenge its policies. INSAF has petitioned the Supreme Court to knock down the new FCRA Rules that give the government unchecked and unbridled powers to throttle the activities of organisations working for public causes by branding them “political” and blocking their access to foreign funds.

The INSAF petition highlights the draconian nature of Rule 3(vi) which debars NGOs from “political actions”. Under these Rules, the government arrogates to itself the power to take action against any group that “habitually indulges in bandhs, hartals, rasta roko, rail roko, or jail bharo” – all non-violent and democratic forms of protest and assertion that emerged from our freedom struggle and are now recognised around the world as legitimate forms of protest. This ridiculous rule can be used against almost any of the organisations that support rights-based mobilisation of practically any group – women, landless farmers, Adivasis and Dalits, students, minorities – irrespective of whether they are, or are not, aligned to any political party.

Ironically, action has been taken using powers under Section 13 of the new FCRA Act against the only organisation challenging the Home Ministry!
The action against INSAF is yet another attempt by the state to undermine the democratic process and dismantle Constitutional guarantees of rights and freedoms under the pretence of “national security” and “national interest”. We stand with INSAF in asserting the Constitutional right of every citizen of India to participation in governance, which includes the right to question, challenge and oppose the policies of the state through peaceful, non-violent and democratic means.

Mansi Sharma
Renu Singh, Coalition for GM Free India
Renu, New Socialist Initiative (NSI)
Jitendra Chahar
Ashok Choudhury, NFFPFW
Afsar Jafri
Tarun Kanti Bose
Bhupen Singh
Anand Swaroop Verma
Abhishek Srivastava
Nishank, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
Dharmender, Lokadhikar
Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Forum
G.Manicandan, Forum Against FTAs
Mahtab Alam
Satyam Srivastava, SRUTI
Shweta Tripathi, SRUTI
Manisha lath, SRUTI
Jyotilal Longjam
Md. Abbas Ansari
Imran Ali, Advocate
Bipin Kumar Rai
Rajendra Ravi
Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karmachari Andolan
Seela M
Bhasha, Jan Sanskriti Manch
Irfan Ahmed, Lok Manch (Bihar)
& others

Please mail your endorsements to: mansidev@gmail.com
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