Sunday, 13 November 2011

People must fight for true freedom: Sanjiv Bhatt

From DNA
Democracy can be meaningful only when citizens become more participative and proactive about the burning issues of the day, and fight for their rights, said IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt on Saturday.
He was speaking at a discussion on the ‘Role of Youth in Democracy’ organised at St Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad by ‘Youths for Restoration of Democracy’, an activity group started by young people supporting Bhatt during his incarceration.
Bhatt, who was suspended and arrested after he accused the state government of complicity in the communal riots of 2002, said there could be no positive change in the country unless there was a change in the attitude of youths.

“India is passing through a period of transition and there are more opportunities today than were found 40 years back. We can only have ‘real’ democracy when it’s functional and meaningful. And this can happen only when we as citizens become more participative and sensitive to the issues of the day and fight for our rights,” Bhatt said.
He further said that when freedom and fundamental rights have to be fought for, it is important to empower people by educating them about issues and providing them with information. This will make them proactive, though how all this is used is up to each individual, Bhatt said.

Gaurang Raval and Dev Desai of ‘Youths for Restoration of Democracy’ were mainly responsible for organising the discussion on Saturday. Desai said the activity group was formed during the candlelight vigils and open discussions they had held in support of Bhatt when he was in jail.
“We realised during our campaign in support of Bhatt that there are many youngsters who are angry and dejected with what is happening around us. That is why they had stepped out in large numbers in Bhatt’s support. We, therefore, formed this activity group and opened a Facebook page dedicated to it. Today’s discussion was the first in a series that we have in mind,” he said on Saturday.
The warmest accolade for the IPS officer came from Udit Thackeray, a 20-year-old student of literature. He said Sanjiv Bhatt was like a bright flame in severe winter. “Aur agar ye mashal jalti rahi, toh ek din Bharat ek ugte huye Suraj ko dekh paayega” (And if this flame keeps burning, then India will one day witness the rise of a bright sun), Thackeray said.
He alleged that the state government had been muzzling voices of dissent and it was time for people to protest. MPhil student Kusum said that the education provided in the city as well as in the state was meant only for the rich.
Mahesh Pandya, founder, Paryavaran Mitr, said that youths today must wake up and address the burning issues of the day. “Unless this happens, there can never be real democracy,” he said.

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