BENGALURU: After the sudden and undemocratic arrest of several human rights activists and lawyers across the country, Dr. Ramachandra Guha, an Indian historian was one of the first individuals to issue a strong public statement condemning the arrests and calling them ‘undemocratic.’

Following these developments and the many statements issued by different groups and individuals, The Citizen had the opportunity to interview Guha and pose some questions regarding the prevailing circumstances in the country and the on-going debate around dissent and democracy.

Excerpts from the interview:

TC: You made a strong statement after the arrests of the activists. What exactly angered you?

A: Those who have been arrested have been taken into custody under the UAPA. While I don’t agree with the politics of many of those who have been arrested, it is known that none of these people are terrorist, waging war against the country. It is a sheer misuse of power. The farce being put up by the Pune Police with their absurd stories makes it evident. This is a misuse of law and police forces by the State.

TC: Do you think we are heading for worse days?

There is no way of telling, at this stage it is imperative that the Supreme Court rein in and take stock of the matter.

TC: You spoke of the takeover of tribal land; do you think that the corporate takeover of land has become a major issue behind these arrests?

Of course, people like Sudha Bharadwaj have been implicated for putting up a fight against the corporates taking over of tribal land and resources.

TC: You fear for your own safety? You have been targeted too?

I don’t worry about my safety, what I am faced with and my worries are far smaller at the moment than those of people like Sudha Bharadwaj.

TC: This is an attack on democracy... Will India survive it?

This is an erosion of democracy, an attack on law and freedom of expression; which must be fought against.

TC: Is the political opposition strong enough to get India out of these woods?

The political opposition must recognise their mistake and work to rectify it. While the NDA might be misusing the laws, it is the UPA that introduced them and began this cycle. Chidambaram, who is now being a crusader of human rights, during the UPA era was instrumental in the arrest of many activists and lawyers.