The Seminar was organised on 14th May at the Bar Hall in the District Court, Chandigarh. It was well-attended. Several prominent advocates and human rights activists were present.
The program started with a 10 minute video film depicting the life of AS Bains and his tireless commitment to the cause of human rights.
Shri Raghavan Srinivasan, President of Lok Raj Sangathan, read out some paragraphs from a booklet titled, ‘State Terrorism and Human Rights’ which was written by Justice AS Bains in 1992, when he was languishing in Burail Jail, Chandigrah, after he was arrested under TADA. He pointed out that the Rule of Law is not applicable to everyone. While individuals are punished for crimes, the Indian State and the Executive stand above law. There is a very grave situation today regarding human rights. Over a period of time human rights violations have only increased. The State violates human rights with impunity. We should fight to establish the modern conception of human rights that it belongs to all members of society by dint of being born into it. There should be constitutional guarantees for the protection of human rights. The need of the day is for the empowerment of people and the transfer of sovereignty into their hands.
A video was shown where Shri Rajwinder Singh read out a message from the Hardial Bains Resources Centre on the occasion of the 100 years of the birth of Justice Ajit Singh Bains. In it Jaspal recalled a poem written at the time of the arrest of Justice Bains titled, ‘Why is there a smile on my face?’ The message dwelt on various aspects of human rights violations in Punjab in the eighties and thereafter. It pointed out that Justice Bains had unflinching faith and conviction in truth, unity and the wisdom of people. The recent struggle of the farmers of Punjab and India have proven his conviction and faith in people that based on their unity and thought material they can face all odds and win.
The message ended with the note
Usey Fiqr Hardam Naya Tarz- E- Jaffa Kya Hai
Humein Yeh Shauk Dekhein Sitam Ki Intiha Kya Hai
(The Oppressor continuously devises new means of oppression
Our passion is to see the end of all oppression).
Prof Apoorvanand narrated a number of recent incidents where human rights of Muslims were violated such as on the issues of the ban on Hijab, bulldozing of Muslim houses and shops, arrests of CAA protest activists, etc. He stressed on the point that today it is the Muslims who are the primary target of the central government and the major victim of human rights violations. Such kind of attacks have not happened before on such a scale. There is a majoritarian government now. He pointed out many instances in which Muslims were attacked and the same would not have happened if a Hindu had done that. He praised the lawyer community for taking up cases of human rights violations on Muslims at a time when no one came forward to defend them. He mentioned that even prominent lawyers whom he had approached rrgarding bail for victims pointed out that it is useless to expect the courts to give bail in UAPA cases for Muslims since that is state state policy. He pointed out that state is above law and the judiciary doesn’t take decisions without consulting the executive. He said that the Hindu community should not remain passive. He clarified that while he opposed repression of central government, he was opposed to acts of individual terrorism too.
The next panel speaker was Prof Haragopal, who is currently visiting professor at Bangalore, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), teaching to students of Master’s Programme in Public Policy (MPPP). Earlier he worked at the University of Hyderabad. He had set up the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Hyderabad and was editor of Indian Journal of Human Rights. He elaborated on various aspects of the current human rights violations in India.
After that speakers from among the lawyers and members of the AS Bains Trust spoke, among them being Shri Gurbachan Singh and Advocate Amar Singh Chahal. They pointed out to the violation of human rights in Punjab, and the grave situation there.
During the question & answer session, several questions were addressed to Prof. Apoorvanand.