May 27, 2017

India: AAP leader moves Supreme Court seeking protection of life, citing threat from ‘Right-wing bodies’

The Hindu

AAP leader moves SC citing threat from ‘Right-wing bodies’

Krishnadas Rajagopal
NEW DELHI, May 25, 2017 00:00 IST

On hit list?The AAP leader said communications addressed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Delhi Police chief about the threats had gone unanswered.File photo

Ashish Khetan files plea under Section 32 of Constitution, matter posted for June 5

Social activist and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashish Khetan on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court with an urgent plea seeking protection of life, liberty and freedom of speech and expression from “radical Right-wing extremist” organisations.

Receiving death threats

In a mentioning before the Vacation Bench of L. Nageswara Rao and Navin Sinha, Mr. Khetan’s counsel and advocate Sunil Fernandes said his client had been receiving death threats from these organisations.

The court has now posted the case for June 5.

Mr. Khetan said communications addressed to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Delhi Police Commissioner about the threats had gone unanswered. In his writ petition, he said that even Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had written to the Home Minister, but to no avail.

The petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution said that “to the utter shock and dismay of the petitioner [Khetan], neither the Home Department under the aegis of Rajnath Singh nor the Police Commissioner, Delhi, had responded to the threats”.

Mr. Khetan, who is vice-chairman of the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi, named Sanatan Sanstha, Abhinav Bharat, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Hindi Rakshak Samiti, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, Sri Ram Sene, Vishwa Hindu Parishad in his petition.

“Such radical organisations have in the last couple of years carried out several murderous attacks on those who do not share their ideology and those who are rationalists, secularists, free-thinkers, anti-superstition and critical thinkers. Many members of these organisations have been convicted for their involvement in mass violence in several parts of the country,” the petition said.

‘Genuine basis’

The AAP leader alleged that such organisations had gained in prominence since 2014 and that the government had failed to discharge its duty to safeguard liberty and free speech.

“These organisations have sought to silence the voices of people like the petitioner by threats, intimidation, violence and even outright murder,” the petition said.

It added that Mr. Khetan had “genuine and reasonable basis” to believe that he would meet a fate similar to noted rationalists and public intellectuals like Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi. “He [Khetan] has been threatened that he is next in line,” the petition said.

‘Chilling reminder’

Alleging that these organisations flaunt their contempt for constitutional democracy, Mr. Khetan compared them to organisations allegedly operating in Pakistan.

“They rely on supremacist ideology of their religion and inferiority of other faiths. They take recourse to the bullet rather than informed debate and discussion,” the AAP leader contended.

He added that he had worked on several investigative articles on right-wing extremist organisations during his 17-year career as a journalist.

Mr. Khetan said the threats issued to him were a “chilling reminder of the growing confidence of the anti-national and fascist forces who want to crush all dissent”.

Mr. Khetan’s petition also mentioned that threats had been directed at a CBI officer – Nanda Kumar Nair.