Condemn the Governmentʹs Vindictive Attitude against Dissenting Voices!!
Senior journalist and editor of Veekshanam, Telugu monthly journal of political economy and society is implicated in a false case under various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Telangana Public Security Act, by Telangana Police on behalf of the Telangana government. This act is a demonstration of the vindictive attitude of the rulers against a newspaper editor for following the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution and criticizing anti-people policies of the government.
On November 12, police arrested N Ravi Sharma and B Anuradha in Hyderabad and out of blue on the next day started attempting to harass Venugopal with implicating him as an accused in the same case. This action smacks of not only a vindictive attitude, but also appears ridiculous with blatant lies and fabrications. In the Remand Case Diary submitted before the LB Nagar II Metropolitan Magistrate on November 13, N Venugopal is shown as A7 and described as ʹmember virasam viplava rachayitala sanghamʹ and also shown as ʹabscondingʹ.
In fact, it is common knowledge that Venugopal is not associated with Virasam since 2009 after a controversy on an article he wrote at that time. Since then he is not member of any organization and running his own monthly journal full time. Anybody who has seen him for the last ten years knows this. Though he holds progressive, democratic and left views, that does not mean that he has to be a member of any organization. As he was a member of Virasam before 2009, some people mistakenly refer him so and he has corrected that mistake publicly so many times. He openly declared that he is not a member of any organization. Thus, branding him as such now is only with a malafide intention of the police to tarnish his image as an independent journalist.
N Venugopal need not be introduced to Telugu readers and people at large as he worked as a journalist in both Telugu and English newspapers for 15 years and then for the last 17 years he has been running an independent monthly journal. It is also known that as a popular writer and public speaker he holds alternative ideology to the status quo. About twenty five books he has written and as many books he translated, hundreds of articles he penned and hundreds of public speeches he made in the last thirty years are in public domain. In Telangana separate statehood movement he shared dais with several people who are now in the government and he had a rare record of speaking on GO 610 in all the district conferences held by TNGOs Union in 2006-07. His role in Telangana movement is unquestionable. However, after the formation of Telangana he felt that the government was not going according to the wishes of the peopleʹs movement and expressing the same views in his writings and speeches. In this way, he has been in open public life and making use of his freedom of speech and expression he has been airing his opinions legally and constitutionally. He has been criticizing the anti-people policies of the government. It is also known to everybody that the powers that be are angry with him for his views.
Further, he is a journalist having the state governmentʹs accreditation card. He delivers public lectures almost every day on some or other platform. He has been writing a fortnightly column in a popular Telugu daily and runs his own monthly magazine. Yet, the police dared to show him as ʹabscondingʹ and it only shows the conspiratorial attitude of the police. It is nothing but misguiding the judiciary. Everybody in society knows that he is not at all absconding. In fact, though the Remand Case Diary described his as such on the first page with two falsehoods, the subsequent 12 pages did not even mention his name at least once. There is no mention of the crimes he is accused of. That means this implication is only a vindictive action against him personally and thereby an attempt to threaten the journal he is editing.
He has been criticizing the anti-people policies of Telangana government in his column Telanganaartham in Nava Telangana daily, in his editorials and the articles published in Veekshanam, in his speeches all over the state, and on electronic channels. Thatʹs why the government and rulers want his voice to be silenced and all dissenting voices shut down. Indeed, Veekshanam launched by V Hanumanta Rao, in association with ABK Prasad in 2003, and under the stewardship of N Venugopal since 2005 has always stood as a forum for dissenting voices for the last 17 years. It always examined and closely scrutinized all the government policies from peopleʹs perspective. Thus todayʹs false case against its editor is a part of the Telangana governmentʹs attempt to crush all dissenting voices under iron heel.
We demand the government to immediately withdraw this false case against the editor of Veekshanam and desist from the vindictive attitude against all the journalists and intellectuals who hold different opinions.
■ On behalf of Veekshanam Collective