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Category: Persecuted

The BK 16

The BK 16

All the people who are the focus of this blog have been accused of being associated with what has come to be known as the “Bhima-Koregaon” or “Elgar Parishad” case.
To mark the bi-centenary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon in 2018, more than 200 Dalit, Bahujan, Ambedkarite and other organisations came together. The coalition organised the hugely successful and massively attended event, ‘Elgar Parishad’ (loud declaration committee), on December 31, 2017 in Shaniwarwada in Pune, once the seat of Peshwai power. This event, as per the organisers, was organised to expose the Navi Peshwai — an era of increasing repression on movements, alienation of minorities, increasing caste atrocities, anti-poor development policies and more.

Charges against the Activists

● That they had made inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad.
● That they are acting on behalf of, or are members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoists).
● That they were plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister.

Lack of Evidence

As it turns out, most of those arrested were not even at the Elgar Parishad event, the charges about the links to Maoists entirely shown to be based on fabricated evidence and so far the charges about the assassination plot had not even a single piece of evidence produced.

The Case of the Reliance Workers Satyanarayan Karrela, Babushankar Vanguri, 
Shankar Gunde, Ravi Marampelli and Saidulu Singapanga

The BK16: Who is …?

Who is Varavara Rao?
All posts related to Varavara Rao
Who is Sudha Bharadwaj?
All posts related to Sudha Bharadwaj
Who is Sudhir Dhawale?
All posts related to Sudhir Dhawale
Who is Arun Ferreira?
All posts related to Arun Ferreira
Who is Surendra Gadling?
All posts related to Surendra Gadling
Who is Vernon Gonsalves?
All posts related to Vernon Gonsalves
Who is Mahesh Raut?
All posts related to Mahesh Raut
Who is Shoma Sen?
All posts related to Shoma Sen
Who is Rona Wilson?
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Who is Gautam Navlakha?
All posts related to Gautam Navlakha
Who is Anand Teltumbde?
All posts related to Anand Teltumbde
Who is Hany Babu?
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Who are the Kabir Kala Manch artistes Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor?
All posts related to Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor
Who is Stan Swamy?
All posts related to Stan Swamy



To mark six years of the arbitrary arrests and imprisonment of political dissidents in the Bhima Koregaon case, The Polis Project is publishing a series of writings by the BK-16, and their families, friends and partners. By describing various aspects of the past six years, the series offers a glimpse into the BK-16’s lives inside prison, as well as the struggles of their loved ones outside. Each piece in the series is complemented by Arun Ferreira’s striking and evocative artwork.




A prison peer-view that I cherish is a drawing by the artist Arun Ferreira, when we were fellow inmates of Nagpur Central Prison in 2011. He shows me sitting at the gate of my cell, writing-pad in hand, and writing—or rather, trying to write. It’s aptly titled, “Some Sophisticated Self-Deception.”
Perhaps I like it because it’s an image that I, like many other political prisoners, wanted as a prison self-image—someone who’s not wasting away his years behind bars. Someone who has some output, even if “only” intellectual output.
Read more




On 1 January 1818, a small British battalion mainly comprising Dalit soldiers from the oppressed Mahar caste defeated an army of dominant-caste Peshwas at Koregaon. The battle gained a legendary status, representing a victory not just in Bhima Koregaon, but against caste injustices perpetrated by the Peshwas. The Mahar community celebrates the anniversary as a festival called “Valour Day,” and many make an annual pilgrimage to an obelisk at the site that memorialises the battle.
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To Think of Modi 3.0 as Less Dangerous Would Be a Misreading

To Think of Modi 3.0 as Less Dangerous Would Be a Misreading

The Wire / by Anand Teltumbde

While forming the government, Modi may do whatever it takes, but thereafter he will recoil back to his fascist persona with a vengeance.
… Most commentators expect Modi 3.0 to be a tamed affair which may not last a full term. I do not agree. While forming the government, he may do whatever it takes, but thereafter he will recoil back to his fascist persona with a vengeance, like a wounded tigress. He will do more of what he knew and did with added fervour of vendetta. For instance, Muslims and Dalits concertedly voted against the BJP, and he will not leave them unpunished. There will be more incarcerations of dissenters (“urban Naxals”), and more raids on and arrests of political opponents by the central agencies under the guise of punishing corruption. 
Read more

Also read:
Who Does June 4 Belong to? (The Wire / June 2024)

Gautam Navlakha Released | Gautam Navlakha’s letter on release from custody

Gautam Navlakha Released | Gautam Navlakha’s letter on release from custody

Released: Gautam with his partner Sabha Husain

Gautam Navlakha’s letter on release from custody

19/05/2024 / by Gautam Navlakha

I wish to thank the Supreme Court for upholding the bail granted to me by the Bombay High Court. It proved to be a long wait but well worth it.
Although happy for myself, I am saddened that the fate of scores of fellow dissidents implicated in a variety of cases, still hangs in balance. Years of our life have been snatched from us as prisoners awaiting trial, which itself will take years to conclude.

Read full letter

Others still languish in life of uncertainty, says activist Gautam Navlakha on release from custody

19/05/2024 / by Scroll Staff

The human rights activist was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the Bhima Koregaon case on May 14.
Human rights activist Gautam Navlakha on Sunday said that while he had been released from custody in the Bhima Koregaon case, he is saddened that the fate of several fellow dissidents implicated in other cases still hangs in balance.
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Gautam Navlakha Released


The Wire / by The Wire Staff

Gautam Navlakha was released from custody, which had been in the form of house arrest in Navi Mumbai, on Saturday late evening, at around 8:30 pm.
The Supreme Court on May 14 lifted the stay on the bail granted to rights activist Gautam Navlakha, who was arrested in the Elgar Parishad case.
Read more

Also read:
Gautam Navlakha granted bail by Supreme Court; orders him to pay 20 lakhs for the expenses incurred during his house arrest (cjp / May 2024)
Bombay High Court grants, stays bail to Gautam Navlakha (The Leaflet / Dec 2023)

A Captive’s Musings on Freedom: Gautam Navlakha’s Notes From Prison

A Captive’s Musings on Freedom: Gautam Navlakha’s Notes From Prison


The Wire / by Gautam Navlakha

It is at a time like this that one faces a critical choice: to either fall silent and submit to the authorities or to continue to strive and struggle for freedom, unmindful of the outcome.
The following is an article written by activist Gautam Navlakha during his period of incarceration.

…..No, freedom does not die alone. At the same time justice is forever exiled, the nation agonises, and innocence is crucified anew every day.”

– Albert Camus in Resistance, Rebellion and Death.

A captive’s understanding of freedom, by its very loss, becomes acute. Severe restrictions on movement and mobility are compounded by unreasonable constraints placed on expression and speech.
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Video: Who are the accused, how many are still in jail / Cases and Charges against the BK16

Video: Who are the accused, how many are still in jail / Cases and Charges against the BK16

By The Print @ youtube

en | 7:23min | 2024
Granting bail to Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday noted that the trial in the case was not likely to conclude any time soon. What was this case about, how many people have been arrested and how many are out on bail? Apoorva Mandhani tells you in this video.
Watch video

The cases and charges against the Bhima Koregaon 16 | Explained


The Hindu / by Saumya Kalia

An update on the legal status of the 16 activists, lawyers, scholars and artists arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case in 2018.
On March 16, human rights activist Gautam Navlakha penned a letter, piecing together words of lament and surrendering to imminent arrest. Mr. Navlakha, is among the 16 human rights defenders who were arrested without trial in 2018 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, for their alleged role in instigating caste violence at Bhima Koregaon.
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Bhima Koregaon case timeline


Hindustan Times / by HT Correspondent

The case relates to alleged provocations at a conference that allegedly triggered unrest near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case, saying it might take several years for the trial to conclude considering the number of witnesses and other pertinent factors. Navlakha was arrested for allegedly making provocative remarks in December 2017 at an Elgar Parishad conference a day before violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial.
A timeline of the case:
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SC grants bail to Gautam Navlakha: All about the Bhima Koregaon violence case, other accused


The Indian Express / by Express Web Service

Navlakha was placed under house arrest in Navi Mumbai subject to strict conditions following a Supreme Court order in November 2022, after he pleaded poor health

Gautam Navlakha was arrested on April 14, 2020, over his alleged involvement in the violence that erupted in Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district on January 1, 2018. Sixteen activists have been arrested in the case — nine by Pune Police in 2018, and another seven by the NIA after it took over the investigation in January 2020 — and eight of them are currently out on bail.
Read more

Also read:
Bhima Koregaon: The process continues to clot as punishment as another year passes by (The Leaflet / Jan 2024)
Truth and dare in Bhima Koregaon (The Leaflet / Oct 2023)

Raising the bar from behind bars: Mahesh Raut and Sagar Gorkhe pass law entrance test

Raising the bar from behind bars: Mahesh Raut and Sagar Gorkhe pass law entrance test

Maharashtra: Raising the bar from behind bars

08/05/2024 / by Eshan Kalyanikar

Bhima-Koregaon accused Mahesh Raut and Sagar Gorkhe clear law exam even as their own controversial case drags on
Two of the 16 activists charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the Bhima-Koregaon case cleared their Common Entrance Test (CET) for law college admission while in jail, clinging to hope for bail and an eventual declaration of innocence by the court. For the past six years, Mahesh Raut and Sagar Gorkhe, both 36, have spent their days in Taloja jail surrounded by undertrials. Their families and friends said this experience motivated them to become lawyers, providing legal aid to those in need.
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Bhima Koregaon case: Two prisoners pass law entrance test


Hindustan Times / by Sabah Virani

Mahesh Raut and Sagar Gorkhe hold master’s degrees from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Yashawantrao Chavhan Maharashtra Open University
With only the aid of old books from the Taloja Central Prison’s library, Mahesh Raut, arrested in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case, scored 99.79% in the state common entrance test (CET) for law. Sagar Gorkhe, a fellow accused, also passed the test, scoring 57.7%. The results were declared on May 3.
Read more

Also read:
Mahesh Raut’s bail gets entangled in tagging of similar matters (The Leaflet / Jan 2024)
What is Kabir Kala Manch, the cultural group accused of being a Maoist front? (The Indian Express / Jan 2024)
Bhima Koregaon Case: Mahesh Raut, youngest accused, granted bail by the Bombay HC! (SabrangIndia / Sep 2023)

The story of the ‘Urban Naxal’ Sudha Bharadwaj (book excerpt)

The story of the ‘Urban Naxal’ Sudha Bharadwaj (book excerpt)

Deccan Herald / Alpa Shah (edited by DHNS)

The following is an edited excerpt from the recently released book ‘The Incarcerations – Bhima Koregaon and the Search for Democracy in India’ by Alpa Shah. It is the story of Sudha Bharadwaj, who was one of the ‘BK-16’ – lawyers, professors, journalists, artists, and activists – who were arrested and held in jail for years without trial under the UAPA law in the infamous Bhima-Koregaon case.
In July 2012, a seven-minute bone-chilling video appeared on Sudha’s WhatsApp. It was shot on a mobile phone in the remote forested village of Sarkeguda in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region.
Read more

Also read:
Fourth Drone Bomb Attack on Indigenous People in Bastar, Chhattisgarh. Stop This State Terror Now! (India Matters UK / April 2023)
Sudha Bharadwaj speaks – A Life in Law and Activism

Publisher: Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
Edition: January 2021
Language: English
Paperback: 316 pages
Access a free PDF copy of the book here (2,1 MB)

▪ Condemn the State Sponsored Massacre Scripted as ‘Encounter’ in Gadchiroli and Bijapur in Central India ( / May 2018)
How corporate land grab is sought to be legitimized in Chhattisgarh by misusing legal framework (Kractivism │ by Sudha Bharadwaj │ Feb 2018)

Why the Life and Times of Fr Stan Swami Matter Even More Today

Why the Life and Times of Fr Stan Swami Matter Even More Today

Indian Catholic Matters / by Verghese V Joseph

Fr Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of the marginalised and oppressed in India. His unwavering commitment to social justice and human rights earned him the title of the country’s oldest prisoner charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in a Maoist conspiracy. Swamy’s death on July 5, 2021, while still in custody, has sparked outrage and calls for justice from human rights organisations and individuals around the world.
Read more

Also read:
Jharkhand police to probe into Maoist links with Stan Swamy’s ‘Bagaicha’, 63 other frontal organisations (The New Indian Express / Sep 2023)
Can Father Stan Swamy’s PIL be the blueprint for justice to thousands of undertrials lodged under UAPA? (The Leaflet / Aug 2023)

▪ An Autobiographical Fragment, Memory and Reflection

Indian Social Institute, Bangalore | by Stan Swamy | August 2021
Edition: Aug 2021
Publisher: Indian Social Institute, Bangalore
Language: English
Paperback: 149 pages
Access a free PDF copy of the book here

▪ Framed to Die – The Case of Stan Swamy

By Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)
Edition: Aug 2021
Publisher: Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi
Language: English
Paperback: 45 pages
Access a free PDF copy of the book here

Koel Sen: Why Are We Being Made To Suffer?

Koel Sen: Why Are We Being Made To Suffer?

Koel & Shoma (pic credits: Free Shoma Sen) / by Jyoti Punwani

It’s been five days since Professor Shoma Sen, accused in the Elgar Parishad case, got bail from the Supreme Court, but she hasn’t managed to step out of Byculla Jail in central Mumbai. Nor has her daughter or husband been able to speak to her even on the phone, since they had finished their phone-call quota for last week before her bail order came.
Waiting to meet her mother, Koel Sen recalled the many frustrations she has experienced in the six years since her mother was suddenly arrested in June 2018. The 36-year-old independent film-maker spoke to Jyoti Punwani about how these years changed her.
Read more

Also read:
‘Shoma Sen should have been released in October 2018’ ( / Apr 2024)
And he waits for Shoma Sen ( / May 2022)
Part 1: ‘It is very difficult to see my mother like this’ ( / May 2022)
Part 2: When Your Mother Is In Prison… ( / May 2022)

‘From Phansi Yard’ by Sudha Bharadwaj wins Best Author in Non-Fiction @AutHER Awards

‘From Phansi Yard’ by Sudha Bharadwaj wins Best Author in Non-Fiction @AutHER Awards

by Jayati Ghosh @Jayati1609 (March 18):

Absolutely delighted to learn that Sudha Bharadwaj has deservedly won the best author award for non fiction with her sensitive, insightful and illuminating book on the lives of women in an Indian prison.

Here’s a typically thoughtful and compassionate response from #SudhaBharadwaj after news of the award:

by AutHER Awards – Creating Lasting Impressions / @AutherAwards (March 17):
A round of applause for Sudha Bharadwaj, winner of the Non-Fiction category at #AutherAwards. Her remarkable book ‘From Phansi Yard: My Year With The Women Of Yerawada’ has made a profound impact on the jury’s hearts
by Juggernautbooks / @juggernautbooks (March 17):
‘From Phansi Yard’ by Sudha Bharadwaj wind Best Author in the Non Fiction Category for @AutherAwards
A heart congratulations to Sudha Bharadwaj!

by Chiki Sarkar / @Chikisarkar (March 17):
Thrilled that Sudha Bharadwaj wins best non fiction in the ⁦@AutherAwards awards.
We are so proud to be publishing this wonderful book ⁦@juggernautbooks

From Phansi Yard: My Year with the Women of Yerawada

Author: Sudha Bhardwaj
Publisher: Juggernaut
Pages: 216

Also read/watch:

▪ From Phansi Yard: My Year With The Women Of Yerawada, by Sudha Bharadwaj (Excerpt)

Artice 14 / by Samar Halarnkar / Sudha Bharadwaj | Nov 2023
Arrested on 28 August 2018, human rights lawyer, teacher and IIT graduate Sudha Bharadwaj is among 16 accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case, charged under  sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967…

On 1 November, I mark my second birthday in custody. Diwali was in late October this year, and Shoma Di has saved a bit of her Diwali faral (snacks, in Marathi) as a treat for me. She gives me a beautiful card with a hand-drawn Sudoku on the front and a ballerina ‘dancing away to her freedom’ on the inside. It’s an ode to my Sudoku mania.
Read more

▪ Video: Barkha Dutt speaks to Sudha Bharadwaj on her book ‘From Phansi Yard’

Mojo Story | Nov 2023

en | 21:03min | 2023
Barkha Dutt speaks to Trade Unionist, activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj on her book ‘From Phansi Yard’. The book records stories of her time in jail. She is out on bail after 3 years in the 2018 Bhima-Koregaon violence case.
Sudha speaks about her days in jail and how her time in a women’s prison made her aware of the gender gap in legal aid. “Many women are jailed- because their husband committed some crime and are now absconding- they don’t even know about the crime,” she says.
Sudha further says that she lives in the house of a friend, as she “can’t afford rent”. Trade unions support her, she does legal cases for them, she says.
Watch video

▪ A Cage with a View: Under-trial life in an Indian jail

National Herald | by Sudha Bharadwaj | Oct 2023
The jottings that make up this book were my way of coping with incarceration. Some prisoners pray, some weep, some just put their heads down and work themselves weary. Some fight defiantly every inch of the way, some are inveterate grumblers, some spew gossip. Some read the newspaper from cover to cover, some shower love on children, some laugh at themselves and at others.
I watched through the bars, and I wrote.

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