Registering their protest against an increasingly “authoritarian” state, users on social media in India used the hashtag #LalSalaamComrade on Twitter this evening. The hashtag also comes about days after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) held that the use of “lal salam” and “comrade” meant that one is a Maoist.
The hashtag was trending on Twitter on June 10, days after reports mentioned that an NIA chargesheet filed on May 29 had called Bittu Sonowal, an aide of farmer leader Akhil Gogoi, a Maoist. Gogoi had been arrested in December last year in wake of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Assam.
Sonowal, who was arrested earlier this year, had been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The NIA reportedly held the fact that he greeted his friends with a ‘lal salam’, as an offence, and also mentioned that he used a photo of Vladimir Lenin with the caption: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”.
The uproar on social media also comes at a time when activists from the group Pinjra Tod have been charged for their alleged role in the Delhi Riots in February in this year, under draconian sections of the law. However, the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police has exonerated BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who had been captured on video inciting a mob.
The Centre has also used the lockdown to arrest activists like Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, while continuing to hold several others in jail, despite some of them prone to illnesses due to their age and a resulting vulnerability to COVID-19.
Instead of focusing on combating the pandemic & providing relief to the people during the #Lockdown, Modi govt has systematically implemented its aggressive agenda of attacks on working class, labour rights & people's democratic rights. We will resist! #LalSalaamComrade pic.twitter.com/CaEkokniE2
— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) June 10, 2020
UAPA is a draconian law targeting activists in India based on identity (Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis) and also ideology (various shades of Left ideology in particular). Bittu Sonowal of KMSS Assam is booked for saying #LalSalaamComrade. Show solidarity, say #LalSalaamComrade! pic.twitter.com/WTngPhTEl1
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) June 10, 2020
It's not about only us as individuals, but the world as a whole. Each one at each corner having their rights.
To struggle for a better world, that's what we are doing.#LalSalaamComrade
— Aishe (ঐশী) (@aishe_ghosh) June 10, 2020
Instead of focusing on combating the pandemic & providing relief to the people during the #Lockdown, Modi govt has systematically implemented its aggressive agenda of attacks on working class, labour rights & people's democratic rights. We will resist! #LalSalaamComrade pic.twitter.com/QbPQAWUhiM
— Surjya Kanta Mishra (@mishra_surjya) June 10, 2020