The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) strongly condemned the arrest of Jacob Vadakkanchery, a practitioner and advocate of naturopathy, purportedly on the directions from Kerala’s Health Minister K K Shailaja, in the strongest possible way. It cautioned that it is is another example of intolerance towards voices of dissent and an attempt to throttle them.
The arrest is said to be for “sharing misleading information on rat fever” and “questioned the authenticity of the leptospirosis preventive medicine prescribed by the government”. NAPM recalled that Jacob is a known critic of the over dependence and unquestioned use and promotion of allopathic medicines, without disclosing the side effects of the same. He has questioned the mighty and powerful pharmaceutical companies for spreading panic among public to amass profit at the cost of human lives.
It further pointed out that this arrest is at a time when last week, when The Indian Express reported that the Indian arm of Johnson & Johnson, the giant pharma company, deliberately suppressed key facts on the harmful aftermath of surgeries conducted on few thousands of patients in the country using faulty hip replacement systems it imported and sold. The revelation forms the core of a report by a committee set up by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to investigate complaints related to the hip implant devices sold there.
NAPM said that voices critical of such exploitation of people needs to be encouraged, not arrested. Encouraging voices of dissent is a sign of healthy democracy, not putting them behind bars.
It further deplored that at a time when the Union Government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is at war with all voices of dissent, the Kerala Government led by the progressive Left parties also moving the same direction. NAPM demanded unconditional and immediate release of Jacob Vadakkanchery. Failing which, it said that they will be compelled to set out on a struggle to uphold the right to dissent and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India.