By The Wire Staff

New Delhi: A group of over a hundred civil society members, human rights defenders, former civil servants, media professionals, and academics convened on February 10 and 11 to voice their concerns about the escalating shift towards totalitarianism in India.

The convention highlighted measures to tackle leading issues, such as unemployment, especially amongst youth and women, stem the tide of majoritarian communalism, safeguard constitutional rights and the autonomy of statutory institutions, strengthen the federal contract and promote equality and social justice.

The two-day Democracy Convention 2024 was addressed by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, senior Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Manish Tewari, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, MP Kapil Sibal, CPI-M Kashmir leader Mohamad Yusuf Tarigami, and spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Suhail Bukhari.

Among the proposals put forth by the Democracy Convention were calls to review the new Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Bills, which allow arrest on mere suspicion and broaden the definition of terrorism to include peaceful protests, such as roadblocks.

Additionally, it recommended the repeal of draconian legislations like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Jammu and Kashmir’s Public Safety Act (PSA).

According to the press release, the convention urged refraining from deploying armed forces in internal conflicts, endorsing the 1951 recommendation that the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) should only apply during a state of war, and reaffirming bail as the norm, with exceptions only for the rarest of offences.

Furthermore, the convention demanded a comprehensive overhaul of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), citing its alleged use for targeting critics of the government.

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