By a government Order (No 73 dated 30 March 2021 but made public only on 24 April) the Telangana government has banned 16 organisations, including political parties, as ‘unlawful’ under the Telangana Public Security Act. The belated public announcement was made at a time when some of these organisations were engaged in providing succour to people trapped in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution provides every citizen the freedom to form associations. The government order declaring entire organisations as unlawful without any specific charge against any individual or the organisations is not only undemocratic, but also against the Constitution of India. The reason for the ban is the government’s claim that these activists are moving in urban areas by adopting various guerrilla tactics to wage war against the State.
The rationale is strengthened by the fact that they have “joined hands with several organisations and alluring the members into their fold inciting inflammatory statements, meetings and rallies highlighting various issues against the State and the Union government.”
The GO goes on to state that these organisations “are organising protests in barren lands in Chhattisgarh besides demanding the release of GN Saibaba, Varavara Rao, Rona Wilson and other leaders of various front organisations who were arrested in the Bhima Goregaon case and demanding repeal of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, farm laws, CAA/NRC etc.”
In order to justify the impugned GO, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government of K Chandrashekar Rao has declared all these 16 groups as ‘front organisations’ of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist). Another reason listed for the ban order is the demand of these organisations for the repeal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.
It may be recalled the Telangana Assembly itself passed a resolution on 15 March 2020 against the CAA, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register on 15 March stating they violated the constitutional guarantees of equality, non-discrimination and secularism and would endanger the lives of vulnerable people who do not possess adequate documentary proof of citizenship.
It was on the strength and support of these organisations that the TRS succeeded in wresting Telangana from Andhra Pradesh as a separate State and Chandrashekar Rao became Chief Minister seven years ago.
The organisations banned under GO 73 are: the Telangana Praja Front, Telangana Democratic Front, Telangana Asanghatitha Karmika Samakhya, Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika, Telangana Vidyarthi Sangham, Democratic Students Union, Adivasi Students Union, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, Telangana Raithanga Samithi, Tudum Debba, Praja Kala Mandali, Forum Against Hindu Fascism Offensive, Civil Liberties Committee, Amarula Bandhu Miruda Sangham, Chaitanya Mahila Sangham and Revolutionary Writers Association.