Daya Varma


According to news reports (January 24, 2011), Maharashtra police arrested hotel managers who did not inform the police about hosting foreign  delegates attending a Womens Conference organized by Illina Sen, wife of Dr. Binayak Sen at the Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University at Wardha. The police used an archaic law, the Foreigners Act of 1946, to harass Illina Sen as well.


This might be a small matter among the many things that happen in a vast country like India all the time but it has serious implications not so much about the government policy about sympathizers of Naxalites but about the space for democratic functioning and the lawlessness of the state.  In the USA and many Western countries, foreigners frequently assemble for protests and do not face police action for exercising the right of free speech. Foreign delegates seem more welcome in the monarchical Gulf countries than in India unless they participate in the Government sponsored Prabashi Divas Mela.


In the meantime Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh seems to behave like the proverbial monkey who hears, says and does nothing while a country as diverse as India drifts into the hands of the police and the prosecutors. 

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