Wednesday, January 27, 2010

R-Day Activists meet sets up Citizens’ SOS group


Two weeks after the killing of Pune activist Satish Shetty and the firing at city activist Nayana Kathpalia, 27 well-known activists came together on Republic Day and set up a core committee to build an organization to protect activists, which is tentatively named “Citizen Support”. Participants in the meeting, which was organized by activists Viren Shah and Krishnaraj Rao, included representatives of well-known organizations such as Vinay Somani from Karmayog, havesh Patel from Anna Hazare’s “Bhrashtrachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Nyas”, Bhaskar Prabhu and S K Nangia from “Mahiti Adhikar Manch”, six activists who were arrested by the police on various flimsy charges during the last year, including Vijay Chauhan (Force 24x7), Sophia Sawant & Dr Prashant Sawant, and Dr Sangeeta Pikale, one of the medical doctors who had successfully pressed the state to enact a Doctor’s Protection Ordinance. Others present included Dr Mona Shah (Professional People’s Party), Dr Parag Jhaveri (Forum for Public Awareness), and lawyers Rina Kamath and Sandeep Jalan.

The round-table gathering, which was held at Roopam Hall opposite Police Commissioner’s Office, steered clear of oratory, and discussed practical feasibilities of setting up an organization to protect active and assertive citizens from various sorts of harm and threats coming from criminal elements as well as vested interests within the administration. See agenda papers:

At the end of the round-table, a letter to the Maharashtra Chief Minister was signed by a majority of those present. The letter urged him to facilitate the ongoing social efforts of various activists by setting up a platform to enable activists to officially present their views in a non-confrontationist way to various members of the administration, police etc. “This is an urgently needed measure, which will spare both activists and administration much heartache if properly implemented,” the letter said.

The letter also argued that It was necessary to promulgate, on the lines of the recent Doctors’ Protection Ordinance, an Act that was designed specifically for the accreditation and protection of bonafide activists. “This need arises especially because the numbers of activists working for Right to Information, Consumer Protection, Protection of Open Spaces, Environment Protection, Animal Welfare, Protection of Women, Children, Aged, Physically Challenged, etc. are in the hundreds, if not in the thousands. These are true sons and daughters of India, and modern day Freedom Fighters. Their battle for various social causes, against the odds, and in the face of threats from both vested interests and the administration, is nothing short of heroic. Their safety and welfare is definitely a responsibility of the State and Union Government,” the letter said. “Please take cognizance of this and promulgate an appropriately worded legislation in the first half of 2010,” it urged the Chief Minister. Copies of this letter, were endorsed to State and Union Home Minister, Prime Minister, UPA Chief Sonia Gandhi and Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi. Download copy of signed letter:

After the round table was wound up, a core group was formed to discuss specifics of setting up an organization to respond to SOS calls. The Vision Statement of the organization, drafted after much deliberation of this core group, was as follows: “Support to Citizens who are working in public interest, who are under threat, attack or arrest.” Phase 1 of this effort will include only citizens who are within MCGM limits, it was decided.

Report by:

Krishnaraj Rao


Download a few photos of meeting:

Download Background material about Doctors Protection Ordinance etc:

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