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Category: Background

Surveillance state: The Pegasus saga unravels in India

Surveillance state: The Pegasus saga unravels in India

Frontline / by Dviya Trivedi

As the Pegasus phone intrusion saga unravels, raising troubling questions over the government’s invasion of privacy, veteran journalists and civil rights activists turn the heat on the Centre by petitioning the Supreme Court for a probe into the matter.
… The phone numbers of several persons accused in the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case, who are now behind bars, figure in the snoop list. They include M.T. Hany Babu, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, and Sudha Bharadwaj, along with the family members and friends of other co-accused persons.
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Also read: Leaked Data Shows Surveillance Net in Elgar Parishad Case May Have Crossed a Line (The Wire, July 18)

Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry postpones hearings in Mumbai

Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry postpones hearings in Mumbai

The Indian Express / by Express News Service

The Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry has postponed its hearings in Mumbai, earlier scheduled to be held between August 23 and August 25, due to the unavailability of a large place to enforce Covid-19 protocols.
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Also read: Casting a Veil – What we miss by ignoring Maratha caste politics in the Bhima Koregaon case (The Caravan, Dec 2020)

India Must Stop Criminalising the Defence of Human Rights: UN Special Rapporteur

India Must Stop Criminalising the Defence of Human Rights: UN Special Rapporteur


Drawing by Arun Ferreira

The Wire / by Sukanya Shantha

Mary Lawlor speaks to The Wire about the situation of human rights defenders in the country, the use of repressive laws by the government and more.
On May 1, 2020, Mary Lawlor, a Dublin-based human rights expert with over four decades of experience engaging in human rights work, took up the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) at the United Nations. Along with her work globally, Lawlor has been closely following the deteriorating human rights conditions in India and feels the country has repeatedly failed to protect the rights and interests of HRDs in the country.
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Also read: Pegasus Reports Highlight Need for Better Regulation of Spyware: UN Rights Chief (The Wire, Aug 20)

Planted Evidence and the BK 16 – Citizens’ Statement Demands Immediate Release

Planted Evidence and the BK 16 – Citizens’ Statement Demands Immediate Release

Planted Evidence and the BK 16 – Citizens’ Statement Demands Immediate Release

18/08/2021

KAFILA / by concerned citizens

We, the undersigned, condemn the continued incarceration of the academics, cultural activists, human rights activists, lawyers, poets and trade unionists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case and unitedly demand their immediate release. After three years of media trial, harassment, raids and arrests of 16 persons, one of the arrested, Father Stan Swamy died on July 5th following wanton medical neglect in custody amounting to institutional murder.
Read full statement


The Steep Fall Of Dissent In India

18/08/2021

Feminism in India / by Mansi Bhalerao

The current socio-political discourse in India is such that it primarily focuses on instances of inter-religious and inter-caste violence and the activities of political and social organisations that are characterised as communal or casteist. Such a discourse is complacent and ignores the larger political and social structures that give birth to communalism and sectarian political and social organisations. However, the rising violence vis-à-vis institutional murders, unlawful arrests of activists and wide-spread communalism in India are calls to delve into the structural nature of casteism and communalism in India, in the light of dissent.
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Here Are the 9 UAPA FIRs Which the Union Govt Refused to Share Details of in Parliament

Here Are the 9 UAPA FIRs Which the Union Govt Refused to Share Details of in Parliament

The Wire / by Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

As many as 1,226 Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) cases were filed by the central investigation agencies and state police in 2019, a 33% increase from 2016, the Union government told the parliament. However, when it was asked to share details of how the law has been used, the government avoided answering in ‘larger public interest’.
… In July 2018, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a protest was held by lawyers and civil rights activists against the UAPA. Gautam Navlakha of People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), who also participated in the protest, had suggested that a movement against UAPA was needed and efforts should be made to seek the commitment of political parties ahead of the general election so that it is repealed.
At the same event, civil rights activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj gave a detailed account of how the UAPA was being misused against Dalits, tribals and minorities.
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Independence Day / Resign Modi: Banner dropped from London’s Westminster Bridge

Independence Day / Resign Modi: Banner dropped from London’s Westminster Bridge


“Resign Modi”: Independence Day banner dropped from London’s Westminster Bridge

15/08/2021

The Caravan / by Diaspora Members and Friends of India in the UK

On the occasion of Indian Independence Day, a group of diaspora Indian activists in the United Kingdom dropped a banner from London’s Westminster Bridge, demanding Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resignation…

Press release issued by the group:
… The Modi regime has imprisoned thousands of people whose only ‘crime’ has been to dissent, to advocate for the most marginalised and oppressed groups, or to take part in nonviolent protests, under draconian laws like the UAPA. Elderly and vulnerable academics and lawyers, students and young activists, including thousands of Adivasi youth, are locked up in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions in the middle of a pandemic.
Read full statement


Demand Justice India: International protest


en | 10:34min | 2021

By International Coalition for Justice in India

They stood by the marginalised. They protected lands, hills and forests from mining companies. They stood up to protect minorities. They did not trust the Indian government”s false promises. They are students, academics, lawyers, journalists and social activists, in thousands, are imprisoned in over-crowded prisons. An 84-year old Jesuit priest and human rights defender, Father Stan Swamy, has passed away while waiting for trail.
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August 15: Zurich – Lotika for release of BK-16 – Berlin – Dundee


The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is a blot on the nation

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is a blot on the nation

The Telegraph / by Prabhat Patnaik

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is a blot on the nation. In no nation reputed to be civilized is there a law that allows the State to pick up literally anybody and keep the person in jail for years, without trial and without bail; and, if, at the end of the trial, whenever it occurs, the person is found innocent, then there is no question of the State being obliged to pay any compensation for the lost years in the person’s life. But this is exactly what the UAPA does.
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PUDR report: Framed to Die – The Case of Stan Swamy

PUDR report: Framed to Die – The Case of Stan Swamy

By Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)

Marking a month since Stan Swamy passed away in judicial custody in a private hospital, a month in which no official inquiry, even the mandated magisterial inquest, has not been initiated, Framed to die: The case of Stan Swamy documents the manner in which Stan Swamy was framed, fettered, and finally forced towards a fatal illness under due process of law called Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Framed to Die argues that Stan’s experiences of persecution provide an understanding of many others, including the 15 accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. Beyond chronicling Stan’s persecution under law, Framed to Die documents why Comrade Stan was a dissenter and a true patriot and why the state feared and criminalized his dissent under the UAPA.

Download full report (45 pages) here

Koregaon Bhima Commission: Examination Of Ex-Cop Who Probed FIR Against Hindutva Leaders Begins

Koregaon Bhima Commission: Examination Of Ex-Cop Who Probed FIR Against Hindutva Leaders Begins

Hindutva Watch / by Chandan Haygunde

The Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry on Thursday started examination of a retired police officer Ganesh More, who had investigated the case against Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide.
More was attached to the Pune rural police as a sub-divisional officer (Daund) during the Koregaon Bhima violence on January 1 in which one person was killed and several others were injured. He retired in December 2018. He deposed as a witness on Thursday before the commission probing into the causes of the violence.
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Also read
India’s Hindu Nationalist Project Relies on Brutal Repression (Jacobinmag / April 2021)
Casting a Veil – What we miss by ignoring Maratha caste politics in the Bhima Koregaon case (The Caravan, Dec 2020)

They say, ‘Truth will finally prevail’. But how long is it going to take? – Anthology of writings by the late Stan Swamy

They say, ‘Truth will finally prevail’. But how long is it going to take? – Anthology of writings by the late Stan Swamy

Article14 / by Stan Swamy

Exclusive excerpts from ‘I Am Not A Silent Spectator’, an anthology of writings by the late Father Stan Swamy, Jesuit sociologist and at 84 the oldest accused, when he died on 5 July 2021 after nine months in custody in the Bhima-Koregaon case. He writes about his life with Adivasis & their struggles against injustice, & the case against him and more.
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I am not a Silent Spectator – Why Truth has become so bitter, Dissent so intolarable, Justice so out of reach.

An Autobiographical Fragment, Memory and Reflection


Edition: Aug 2021
Publisher: Indian Social Institute, Bangalore
Language: English
Paperback: 149 pages

Access a free PDF copy of the book here