Letter to BS: Dissent is 'safety valve' of democracy, says Supreme Court

Varavara Rao, one of the arrested activists, gestures as he is escorted by policemen in Hyderabad | AFP
Some people, especially the right-wing, thanks to their hostility for the progressive, label Maoists as terrorists and want to wipe them off the face of the earth. It does not occur to them that Maoists are not born Maoists, but are made Maoists by the unjust social and economic order with violence against the weak built into it. Call them rebels with a cause, left-wing extremists if you want, but don't compare them to right-wing extremists, for what they represent bear no comparison. 

For the emergence of Maoist-mukt Bharat, the causes that produce Maoists need to be addressed first. Rather than going after intellectuals and activists for championing the cause of human rights and welfare of the lower orders, the state should admit the structural violence and the inhumanity of keeping the country's weak and vulnerable people in sub-human and vulnerable conditions. For political freedom to be meaningful, there should be some semblance of economic and social freedom for all the citizens. 

The time has come for those who cherish democracy and freedom to assert that the hard-won space of citizens to dissent and protest and work for a better world without glaring inequalities cannot be ceded to the state. It goes without saying that any political system refusing to allow dissent becomes a tyranny. As Justice Chandrachud has put it, dissent is the safety valve of democracy. The day is not far off when as a nation we will slide into tyranny, if the naked misuse of state power is not resisted with all the strength. 

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G David Milton Maruthancode

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