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A Mango Republic – The arrest and incarceration of the multitude of people …

A Mango Republic – The arrest and incarceration of the multitude of people …

Campaign, 2020

The Wire / by Natasha Narwal

The arrest and incarceration of the multitude of people languishing in our prisons is as political as that of Kejriwal. How many mangoes will it take to get them out?
With the heat waves and rising mercury, the season of mango is here. But this season, mango is not just a fruit, it also seems to be a key conspirator in the plot to get Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal out of Tihar Jail. The chargesheet is still awaited in the case, but its good name has been dragged through the mud. What’s a mango supposed to do?
Behind this comedy of errors lies the horror of dismantling of Indian democracy.
Kejriwal’s arrest and incarceration is a watershed moment marking the crisis of democracy and free and fair elections in the country. But this moment has long been in the making and all those who want to fight for a democratic future must confront this history.
Read more


Also read:
India – Fundamental Freedoms Deteriorate Further in Modi’s Second Term (CIVICUS / April 2024)
Five Questions on the Shameful Proceedings Against Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Asif Iqbal (The Wire / Jun 2023)
The Uses (and Abuses) of Investigative Agencies (The Wire / Nov 2022)
Maharashtra is adding activists to a secret list of the enemies of state (Newslaundry / July 2021)
How Governments Avoid Due Process by Declaring Groups as ‘Front Organisations’ of Banned Entities (The Wire / Sep 2020)

Video | Modi’s India a modern Indian fascism: Alpa Shah / Book excerpt: The Incarcerations

Video | Modi’s India a modern Indian fascism: Alpa Shah / Book excerpt: The Incarcerations

Modi’s India a modern Indian fascism: Alpa Shah, Professor of Social Anthropology

19/04/2024

The Wire / by Karan Thapar


en | 44:51 | 2024
One of British academias most highly regarded anthropologists has said “we need to call Modi’s India a modern Indian fascism”. Alpa Shah says: “Indian fascism may not be of the classic kind, whatever that is, but it’s fascism nevertheless.”
In a 40-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, to mark the launch of her book, ‘The Incarcerations: Bhima Koregaon and the Search for Democracy in India’, Alpa Shah, who is presently Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics but has just been announced as the new Professor of Social Anthropology at Oxford University and a fellow of All Souls College, identified seven key characteristics of fascism each of which, it seems, applies almost fully to India under Narendra Modi. She, therefore, argues that terms like “majoritarianism or ethnic democracy or cultural nationalism” do not “convey the gravity of threat to democracy under way in India”.
Watch video


The Incarcerations: Bhima Koregaon And The Search For Democracy In India by Alpa Shah

19/04/2024

Article14 / by Alpa Shah

… In The Incarcerations, professor of social anthropology at the London School of Economics Alpa Shah now tells the chilling story of the Bhima-Koregaon case that transformed the 16 human rights defenders who were professors, lawyers, journalists and poets into alleged Maoist terrorists accused of waging a war against the Indian state and plotting to kill prime minister Narendra Modi.

Book excerpt
Only when the streets in Mumbai were deserted because of the Dalit protestors, did the conflict over the Bhima Koregaon British war memorial make it into international news, at The Guardian. In fact, the Indian broadsheets and mainstream TV mainly covered the events only when there was disruption in Mumbai, and then the focus of reporting was on mobs holding the city to ransom, not the casteist violence in Koregaon that they were protesting.
Read more


A new book recounts how 16 activists were imprisoned as terrorists, without trial

27/03/2024

Scroll.in / by Alpa Shah

An excerpt from ‘The Incarcerations: Bhima Koregaon and the Search for Democracy in India’
Amnesty International India and Oxfam India released a joint response the day Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao were arrested. “The nationwide crackdown on activists, advocates and human rights defenders is disturbing and threatens core human rights values.”
Read more

Space for Civil Society Groups, Fundamental Freedoms Shrank Further in Modi’s Second Term

Space for Civil Society Groups, Fundamental Freedoms Shrank Further in Modi’s Second Term

NewsClick / by Newsclick Report

The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in India as “Repressed”.
… On human rights defenders, the report pointed how those critical of the government were implicated and jailed in “politically motivated cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a draconian anti-terror law,”such as 16 activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, former JNU student Umar Khalid, student activist Gulfisha Fatima and several activists in Kashmir, such as Khurram Parvez, award-winning photojournalist Masrat Zahra, journalist Peerzada Ashiq among others,
Read more
Read full report: India – Fundamental Freedoms Deteriorate Further in Modi’s Second Term


Also read:
India: Weaponizing Counterterrorism: India’s exploitation of terrorism financing assessments to target the civil society (Amnesty International / Sep 2023)
The Uses (and Abuses) of Investigative Agencies (The Wire / Nov 2022)
India | Civicus Monitor Watchlist – Overview Of Recent Restrictions To Civic Freedoms (March 2022)
AUTHORITIES HARASS AND SQUEEZE FUNDING OF NGOS WHILE ACTIVISTS, JOURNALISTS TARGETED IN INDIA (CIVICUS / Feb 2022)
Maharashtra is adding activists to a secret list of the enemies of state (Newslaundry / July 2021)
How Governments Avoid Due Process by Declaring Groups as ‘Front Organisations’ of Banned Entities (The Wire / Sep 2020)

‘Pattern’ of UAPA Being Abused / You spent 10 years in jail for nothing. Who should pay for it?

‘Pattern’ of UAPA Being Abused / You spent 10 years in jail for nothing. Who should pay for it?

Elgar Parishad Case: Bail Orders Show ‘Pattern’ of UAPA Being Abused

14/04/2024

The Quint / by Rohit Khannna

The SC recently granted bail to activist Shoma Sen, stating the allegations against her were prima facie not true.
On 5 April 2024, the Supreme Court granted bail to former Nagpur University professor and activist Shoma Sen, stating that the allegations against her – of indulging in terrorist activities or working for a terror group – were prima facie “not true”, and that no case was made out against her for offences under the extremely stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA.
Shoma Sen is among the 16 accused in the Elgar Parishad case, all of whom were arrested under the UAPA.
Read more

Video: Elgar Parishad Case: Bail Orders Show ‘Pattern’ of UAPA Being Abused

By The Quint

en | 5:12min | 2024
Watch video


The Reichstag Fire & Prof Shoma Sen

14/04/2024

Newsclick / by Prabhat Patnaik

There’s a striking contrast between German judiciary stance during Hitler’s time and Indian judiciary’s on the executive’s trampling upon the Constitution.
… Professor Shoma Sen of Nagpur University was granted bail on Friday, April 5, by the Supreme Court, after she had spent six years in jail as an accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case. While granting her bail, the Supreme Court said in no uncertain terms that there was no prima facie case of her being associated with any acts of terrorism or being linked to any terrorist organisation. And yet she had to spend six years of her life in jail, which raises two fundamental questions: first, shouldn’t the government be held responsible, and hence be penalised in some way, for her extremely long incarceration without any trial, and that too on non-existent grounds according to the Supreme Court itself?
And, second, what were the various courts doing all these six years, letting her languish in jail, when they were duty-bound under the Constitution to protect her fundamental rights?
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You spent 10 years in jail for nothing. Who should pay for it?

12/04/2024

Times of India / by Sunil Baghel

What connects three professors — from Delhi, Kolhapur and Nagpur — to 17 residents of a village in Madhya Pradesh? All of them spent time in jail as undertrials or convicts before they were either acquitted or granted bail due to lack of evidence, with the courts questioning the cases against them.
… Under the stringent UAPA — where getting bail is even harder than other criminal cases — more than 24,000 people were accused in 5,027 cases registered between 2016 and 2020.
The data revealed in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha showed that just 212 people had been convicted in these cases, and 386 were acquitted. As per the data, nearly 98% of those arrested under the law had been imprisoned for multiple years just awaiting trial or to get bail.
Read more


Also watch/read:

▪ Spotlight | How UAPA is Crushing Dissent in India

The Wire’s new show, ‘Spotlight’ / by Zeeshan Kaskar

en | 15:16min | 2024
In Episode 4 of The Wire’s new show, ‘Spotlight’, we understand the UAPA, its history and how the 2019 amendment of the law has pushed India’s legal justice system on the brink.
Watch video

Explained: The Shoma Sen bail judgment (The Leaflet / April 2024)
Can Father Stan Swamy’s PIL be the blueprint for justice to thousands of undertrials lodged under UAPA? (The Leaflet / Aug 2023)
▪ Report: UAPA – CRIMINALISING DISSENT AND STATE TERROR (PUCL / Sep 2022)

Download report
Punished without trial: How India’s political prisoners are being denied basic rights in jail (Scroll.in / Aug 2022)
A study of Undertrials in Jharkhand (Sanhati / by Bagaicha Research Team / Feb 2016)

Delhi Police files chargesheet in UAPA case against NewsClick founder Prabir Puryakayastha

Delhi Police files chargesheet in UAPA case against NewsClick founder Prabir Puryakayastha

NewsClick UAPA case: Delhi Police Special Cell files chargesheet against founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha, portal

30/03/2024

The Indian Express / by Nirbhay Thakur

Among allegations detailed by the Special Cell in its FIR against Prabir Purkayastha were attempts to show Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as “not parts of India”.
… The Special Cell had registered an FIR in this regard in August under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In November, the two were sent to a month’s judicial custody. The FIR also mentioned Purkayastha’s “friendship since 1991” with rights activist Gautam Navlakha who is under house arrest in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case.
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Delhi Police files chargesheet in UAPA case against NewsClick founder Prabir Puryakayastha

30/03/2024

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

Purkayastha and PPK NewsClick Studio were named as accused parties for allegedly taking Chinese funds to ‘undermine India’s sovereignty, territorial integrity’.
The Delhi Police Special Cell on Saturday filed an 8,000-page chargesheet in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act case against NewsClick founder and editor Prabir Puryakayastha, who has been in judicial custody since November.
Read more


Newsclick Rejects Allegations Published in Media; Latest Claims No Different

Newsclick.in | Newsclick Team | March 29, 2024
Statement on allegations published in the media about the case under UAPA being investigated by the Special Cell of Delhi Police.
Read full statement


Also read:
‘NewsClick’ case: Gautam Navlakha questioned by Delhi Police (Scroll.in / Dec 2023)
This Is the Biggest Crackdown on the Indian Press by the Indian State (The Wire / Oct 2023)

Top Global Academics Flay Recent Pattern in India of Jailing Critics Without Trial

Top Global Academics Flay Recent Pattern in India of Jailing Critics Without Trial

Campaign poster, 2020

The Wire / by The Wire Staff

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has voiced his support for the statement – among whose authors is Amitav Ghosh – saying such imprisonment without trial was “certainly among the worst injustices that the country has made into a regular arrangement”.
Sixteen prominent academics released a statement expressing concern over the prolonged detention without trial of writers, journalists and activists who were critical of the Union government.
Read more / read the full text of the two statements

New Book on Bhima Koregaon Case Tells Uncomfortable Truths, But Brings Hope / Book launch

New Book on Bhima Koregaon Case Tells Uncomfortable Truths, But Brings Hope / Book launch

New Book on Bhima Koregaon Case Tells Uncomfortable Truths, But Brings Hope

31/04/2024

The Quint / by Mekhala Saran

Alpa Shah’s book, ‘The Incarcerations’, is alive with stories of fearlessness, but also of the cost it extracts.

“Well, I am off to NIA custody and do not know when I shall be able to talk to you again. However, I earnestly hope that you will speak out before your turn comes.”

– Anand Teltumbde, on the eve of his incarceration in April 2020

Alpa Shah’s book on the Bhima Koregaon incarcerations is not an easy read. When I first decided to review the book – before laying my hands on it – I thought it would not take me longer than a week.
Read more


A new book recounts how 16 activists were imprisoned as terrorists, without trial

27/03/2024

Scroll.in / by Alpa Shah

An excerpt from ‘The Incarcerations: Bhima Koregaon and the Search for Democracy in India’
Amnesty International India and Oxfam India released a joint response the day Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao were arrested. “The nationwide crackdown on activists, advocates and human rights defenders is disturbing and threatens core human rights values.”
Read more


by Shireen Azam / @shireenazam (March 26:)
A full full house at @LSEpublicevents for the book release of (Bhima Koregaon) Incarcerations by @alpashah001


Video| Book launch/discussion: The Incarcerations: BK-16 and the search for democracy in India

26/03/2024

Hosted by the International Inequalities Institute, LSE Human Rights, Department of Anthropology and Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

IN-PERSON AND ONLINE PUBLIC EVENT

Speakers:
Professor Alpa Shah.
Discussants: Professor Christophe Jaffrelot, Professor Tarun Khaitan and Priyanka Kotamraju
Chair: Professor Deborah James

Join us to launch and discuss Alpa Shah’s new book, The Incarcerations: BK-16 and the search for democracy in India.
As general elections fast approach in the world’s largest democracy, this event asks what democracy today must urgently ensure for our common future. In her latest book, Alpa Shah pulls back the curtain on Indian democracy to tell the remarkable and chilling story of the Bhima Koregaon case, in which 16 human rights defenders (the BK-16) – professors, lawyers, artists – have been imprisoned, without credible evidence and without trial, as Maoist terrorists.
Read more

Watch on LSE’s YouTube channel.


Interview | Alpa Shah: India is not a safe place any more

23/03/2024

The News Statesman / by  Gavin Jacobson

Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacism is capturing major state institutions while repressing minority groups and political activists.
… Shah exposes how the state engaged in a prolonged act of cyberwar against the so-called “BK-16”, hacking their emails and implanting incriminating evidence on their computers in order to prosecute them. It is the best book I’ve read about the full-scale assault on democracy in India, and with the general elections scheduled to conclude in June, it’s essential reading for an understanding of what is happening to the country right now.
On 18 March I met Shah at her office at the London School of Economics.

Gavin Jacobson: When did you decide to write a book about the BK-16?
Read more


Hackers-for-Hire, Govt’s Media Control: Seven Takeaways From Studying the Arrests of the BK-16

15/03/2024

The Wire / by Alpa Shah

“…the evidence used to incarcerate the BK-16 was likely to have been implanted remotely through a hacker-for-hire mercenary gang infrastructure that has clients all over the world, but whose epicentre is in India.”
Excerpted with permission from Alpa Shah’s The Incarcerations: Bhima Koregaon and the Search for Democracy in India, HarperCollins 2024.
Read more


Hacker-for-hire gang with links to Pune police planted emails on the computers of Bhima Koregaon accused: new book

14/03/2024

The Hindu / by Vijaita Singh

The mercenary hacker gang, headquartered in India, remotely implanted evidence, according to LSE professor’s book; cites cybersecurity researchers to claim gang’s connection to a Pune police officer
The alleged evidence used to incarcerate 16 people in the Bhima Koregaon case was “likely to have been implanted remotely through a hacker-for-hire mercenary gang infrastructure that has clients all over the world, but whose epicentre is in India,” according to claims made in a new book.
Read more


The arrests putting Narendra Modi’s ‘fascist’ India on trial

14/03/2024

The Telegraph / by Andrew Whitehead

Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest, died in custody in India in July 2021. He was 84. He had spent nine months in detention and had been repeatedly denied bail; yet he had not been convicted of any offence.
… Alpa Shah, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics, argues in The Incarcerations that the arrest of Swamy and 15 others – lawyers, academics, poets, activists – in what has become known as the “BK case” reveals India’s authoritarian creep.
Read more


Also read:
Why Courts Are Ignoring Concerns Of Planted Evidence In The Bhima-Koregaon Prosecution (article14 / Jan 2023)
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)

Kejriwal Arrest: This Coup Against Our Constitutional Setup is a Wake-Up Call

Kejriwal Arrest: This Coup Against Our Constitutional Setup is a Wake-Up Call

Campaign, 2020

The Wire / by Apoorvanand

One knows that the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal or Hemant Soren is to scare political leaders and the people and stun them into inaction. Is this how we want to live? Are we actors in this theatre of democracy or mere spectators?
… But in India and especially under the BJP government, investigation is used as a ruse to punish the critics and opponents of the government by jailing them. This is exactly what was done to P. Chidambaram and many others.
Recently, we heard the agencies informing the court that it did not need Shoma Sen’s custody for investigation. She is in jail for more than five years in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case.
Read more


Also read:
State-sponsored attacks of surveillance reveal an erosion on Indians’ right to privacy, especially journalists, political opposition (SabrangIndia / Nov 2023)
India: Weaponizing Counterterrorism: India’s exploitation of terrorism financing assessments to target the civil society (Amnesty International / Sep 2023)
The Uses (and Abuses) of Investigative Agencies (The Wire / Nov 2022)
AUTHORITIES HARASS AND SQUEEZE FUNDING OF NGOS WHILE ACTIVISTS, JOURNALISTS TARGETED IN INDIA (CIVICUS / Feb 2022)
Maharashtra is adding activists to a secret list of the enemies of state (Newslaundry / July 2021)
How Governments Avoid Due Process by Declaring Groups as ‘Front Organisations’ of Banned Entities (The Wire / Sep 2020)

Was the trial judge who convicted GN Saibaba biased? We will never know, and that is part of the injustice

Was the trial judge who convicted GN Saibaba biased? We will never know, and that is part of the injustice

Was the trial judge who convicted G.N. Saibaba biased? We will never know, and that is part of the injustice

24/03/2024

The Leaflet / by Nihalsing Rathod

The injustice of a trial judge filling the gaps in the prosecution’s case (which relied on ‘evidence’ in the form of bananas, umbrellas and newspaper cuttings) with judicial overreach to chop ten years off Professor G.N. Saibaba’s life.
The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court heard the appeal against the conviction of Prof. G.N. Saibaba and five others, twice. In both the judgments, it set aside the conviction.
Read more


Branded Maoist, ex-political prisoners narrate how they were wrongfully incarcerated

21/03/2023

Counterview.net / by Our Representative

Celebrating the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, which fell on March 18, the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a joint platform of 35+ organizations, held a public gathering in Delhi titled “Life in Anda Cell: Political Prisoners and Wrongful Incarcerations” at the Press Club of India, Delhi, in order to mark the acquittal and prison experience of cultural activist Hem Mishra and his family. 
… Hem Mishra added, “it is not about just the 6 of us in my case. It is about all political prisoners. As long as the fight for jal-jangal-jameen remains, as long as the fight of Dalits, Adivasis, workers, peasants, oppressed nationalities remains, as long as the question of creating a better world for all people and a better state for all people remains, the fight of all political prisoners will rage on. At the end of the day, I am a bard who sings the songs of the people and I will continue to echo their cries. I am out of prison, but as long as all other political prisoners like Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale are inside prison, I feel I am only out from a smaller cage into a bigger one.”
Read more


By Adv Surendra Gadling Defence Committee (Jan 2021):
With due credit to anonymous artist and to the jailed, to be jailed lawyers

IO Whose Role Bombay HC Questioned in Saibaba Case Was Also Part of Elgar Parishad Probe

13/03/2024

The Wire / by Sukanya Shantha

The Pune police, at multiple places in the Elgar Parishad chargesheet, claimed that some of those arrested in the Elgar Parishad case had a “direct association” with Saibaba.
At the end of 2018, when the Pune police first filed a chargesheet in the Elgar Parishad case, they claimed to be “heavily relying” on the investigation conducted in the case involving former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba. By then, Saibaba and five others had already been convicted by the Gadchiroli sessions court.
Read more


Also watch:

▪ Video: INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MEETING

en | 1:07 min | 2024

By INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM IN INDIA (InSAF)
Celebrating the Second Acquittal of Professor GN Saibaba, Prashant Rahi, Mahesh Tirki, Hem Mishra and Vijay Tirki and the late Pandu Narote
Years in solitary confinement Years of shuttling from one bail plea to another Endless health ordeals, systematic discrimination The custodial death of 32-year old co-accused Pandu Narote The shocking overnight reversal of an acquittal order The life and trials of GN Saibaba and his co-accused remind us of the extent the repressive Indian state will go to in order to silence voices of dissent But on 7 March 2024, they finally walked free, after being acquitted for the second time on 5 March 2024, exonerated of all charges On 10 March 2024, we came together to celebrate this overdue step
We will not be silenced

Co-sponsored by
International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India (InSAF India) South Asian Diaspora Action Collective (SADAC) Indian Workers Association (Great Britain) (IWA-GB) India Labour Solidarity (UK) Foundation The London Story The Humanism Project, Australia Hindus for Human Rights Free Saibaba Coalition (USA) Boston South Asian Coalition (BSAC) India Civil Watch International (ICWI) South Asia Solidarity Group, London

Watch video

IO Whose Role Bombay HC Questioned in Saibaba Case Was Also Part of Elgar Parishad Probe / Video

IO Whose Role Bombay HC Questioned in Saibaba Case Was Also Part of Elgar Parishad Probe / Video

The Wire / by Sukanya Shantha

The Pune police, at multiple places in the Elgar Parishad chargesheet, claimed that some of those arrested in the Elgar Parishad case had a “direct association” with Saibaba.
At the end of 2018, when the Pune police first filed a chargesheet in the Elgar Parishad case, they claimed to be “heavily relying” on the investigation conducted in the case involving former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba. By then, Saibaba and five others had already been convicted by the Gadchiroli sessions court.
Read more


Also read/watch:
‘It Is Only by Chance That I Came Out of Prison Alive’: G.N. Saibaba (The Wire / March 2024)

▪ Video: INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MEETING

en | 1:07 min | 2024

By INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM IN INDIA (InSAF)
Celebrating the Second Acquittal of Professor GN Saibaba, Prashant Rahi, Mahesh Tirki, Hem Mishra and Vijay Tirki and the late Pandu Narote
Years in solitary confinement Years of shuttling from one bail plea to another Endless health ordeals, systematic discrimination The custodial death of 32-year old co-accused Pandu Narote The shocking overnight reversal of an acquittal order The life and trials of GN Saibaba and his co-accused remind us of the extent the repressive Indian state will go to in order to silence voices of dissent But on 7 March 2024, they finally walked free, after being acquitted for the second time on 5 March 2024, exonerated of all charges On 10 March 2024, we came together to celebrate this overdue step
We will not be silenced

Co-sponsored by
International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India (InSAF India) South Asian Diaspora Action Collective (SADAC) Indian Workers Association (Great Britain) (IWA-GB) India Labour Solidarity (UK) Foundation The London Story The Humanism Project, Australia Hindus for Human Rights Free Saibaba Coalition (USA) Boston South Asian Coalition (BSAC) India Civil Watch International (ICWI) South Asia Solidarity Group, London

Watch video