“Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled, they cannot become conscious.”— George Orwell
Political prisoner is a deviant, as per my observation. S/he is jailed for “freely expressing” any disagreement tranquilly. S/he is also jailed for disobeying with the mainstream definitions constituted by the government. S/he can be also “legally” arrested for belonging to an organization, race or social group unapproved by the “democratic” government. I am “not particularly” talking about China, Zimbabwe or North Korea where the situation is intrinsically worse, but referring to those governments which feel that they’re above the mankind or aren’t made up of human clay to “ethically govern” the social cosmos.
I cannot uphold “violent” political prisoners, because they are naturally violating the axioms of self-ownership. Non-aggression principle (NAP) is such a maxim. NAP is the idea that each person has the right to make his or her own choices in life so long as they do not involve aggression, defined as the initiation of force or fraud, against others. The principle asserts that aggression, a term defined by proponents as any encroachment on another person’s life, liberty, or justly acquired property, or an attempt to obtain from another via deceit what could not be consensually obtained, is always illegitimate. In the current scenario, along with you, I assess “direct violence” and “indirect violence” daily. Direct violence is an offensive crime committed by the political prisoners and is unjustified, but when the direct violence like “war on terror” or “war on drugs” or “war on naxals” is committed…the government acts very cunningly by tagging it as a defensive measure. Anyone who constructively elenchus the government’s stupidity or attempts to create the said distinction is charged under sedition act, patriot act, defamation act, etc. Figure it out, if you disbelieve me. Whereas, indirect violence is a defensive crime committed by the slacktivists on facebook, twitter, etc. and there have been many cases where users are arrested simply over their “posts”. Other way the indirect violence is an offensive crime committed by the government on people through the expropriating means like taxation (legal robbery), land acquisition, etc. Anyone opposing it is likely to see the doors of incarceration.
Partho Sarathi Ray writes that in 2005 the Supreme Court of India sentenced a man to death, not based on evidence by the admission of the learned justices themselves, but to “satisfy the collective conscience of society”. This man, Mohammad Afzal Guru, accused in the 2001 Parliament attack case of “waging war against the state”, vilified and sentenced to death by media trial even before his actual death sentence, was finally hanged to death on February 8, 2013. During this decade long period hundreds of other men and women have been arrested and thrown into prisons all over India, where they have been spending years behind bars, not because they have committed crimes such as murder or robbery or rape, but because they have responded to the call of their conscience to end oppression and exploitation in society. Amitava Bagchi, Angela Sontake, Asutosh Soren, Chatradhar Mahato, Gour Chakrabarty, Kobad Ghandy, Prasant Rahi, Shila didi, Soni Sori, Vernon Gonsalves, Venkateswara Rao – these mostly unfamiliar names are all part of that long procession of people who are imprisoned, or have been imprisoned, in various jails in India over the past decade or more, accused of waging war against the Indian state.
Coming from various regions of India, speaking different languages, from different professions and backgrounds, all these men and women have the same identity now – they are all “political prisoners”. The central government and various state governments of India are so worried about their activities that it is unthinkable that they can remain free, and making them rot in jail for year after year has become a mainstay of state policy. The general public mostly remains ignorant about these people, and the government’s efforts are constantly directed towards maintaining that ignorance. Sometimes, some news appears about them, hidden in the inside pages of newspapers, which soon fade out of public memory. The only people concerned about these prisoners are a few human rights organizations and activists, some political organizations, and their hapless relatives who hope that one day their near and dear ones will again breathe in the free air. I am fearless to articulate all this here because right is right & wrong is wrong and just because people are [tyrannically] with “majority” does not mean that right is wrong or wrong is right.
It is unprecedented, in recent history, that such a large number of people accused of political offences have been imprisoned for such prolonged periods of time by a state which claims to be democratic and which is officially not at war. The only possible comparisons are the juntas and dictatorships of Latin America in the 70s and 80s, but they did not have the democratic pretensions of the Indian state. It is not the life of Afzal Guru, someone needs to tell the learned justices of the Supreme Court, but the continued imprisonment of these people who are the successors of Bhagat Singh and Surya Sen and Khudiram, that is the blot on the conscience of Indian society
However, the central government and various state governments of India constantly try to obscure the difference between political offences and criminal offences, so that the usual public sympathy towards political prisoners can be suppressed, and it becomes easier to make the conditions and sentences of the political prisoners harsher. For this reason the Indian state has promulgated a series of laws, which although nominally supposed to control or prevent organized crime or terrorism, practically becomes the main weapons in the hands of governments to suppress political dissent. By all these standards, I am liable to be charged under 124 (a) of sedition act in India for boldly expressing my views in defense of liberty and nonviolent political prisoners. So, tell me, how freer is your freedom?