CMM demands release of Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh 2019
The Polis Project / by The Polis Project & maraa
PROFILES OF DISSENT | The profile spotlights the life and work of Sudha Bharadwaj a trade unionist, and a civil rights activist who had fought against land acquisition, and has worked and lived in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh for 29 years. Read more
From the shadows of dissent – women engaged to free arrested family members
Meet the women engaged in an endless battle with the state to free family members arrested under stringent laws.
On Friday morning, the Bombay High Court rejected the parole application of GN Saibaba, the Delhi University professor undergoing a life sentence in Nagpur jail since 2017 for “Maoist links”. Read more
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 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.
On March 16, 2020, the Supreme Court of India rejected the anticipatory bail application of Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha. On April 8th the Supreme Court granted them one more week time to ‘surrender’ to the police.
Teltumbde’s writing has exposed the hypocrisy of the votaries of neo-liberal capitalism, caste deniers and Hindutva triumphalists. It is they who seek to silence him today.
… A consummate polymath, Anand Teltumbde is at once comfortable with hard-nosed political-economic analyses of globalisation, as with the cultural-politics of caste identities and caste-class dialectics, or with the techno-business strategic policy formulations that figure in trade journals. Read more
Gautam Navlakha is a Delhi-based veteran journalist, author, civil liberties, human rights and peace activist best known for his fierce and sustained critique of the Indian state’s militarism against its own citizenry in three broad zones – the northeastern states, Kashmir valley, and the central Indian forested zone in Chhattisgarh. …
Maaysha, Sudha’s daughter:“If fighting for the rights of adivasis, fighting for workers and peasants, fighting against repression and exploitation and giving up one s whole life for them is being a naxalite then I guess naxalites are pretty good.”
“The 6th Annual Harvard Law International Women’s Day Portrait Exhibit showcases the astounding contributions of women around the world to the areas of law and policy. The honorees — each of whom were nominated by HLS students, faculty or staff — are powerful voices in their respective fields, whether they are sitting on a high court bench, standing in front of a classroom, or marching in the streets.”
Or whether they are sitting in jail.
Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj is a 2019 honoree of the Harvard Law International Women’s day exhibition and is sitting in a jail cell in Pune. How did these conflicting positions come about? …
“When the victory drum started beating In the heart of the masses You mistook it for a person and trained your guns Revolution echoed from all horizons.”
Being thrown into jail is nothing new to the famous Telugu poet Varavara Rao. He has faced at least 25 cases in the last 45 years. His story can be understood through the history of these arrests and the power of his writings, his poetry, his teaching career and his political understandings and analysis of power and oppression, and the path to liberation.
Varavara Rao, or VV was born into a middle class family in Chinna Pendyala, Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh in 1940. He started publishing his poetry at age 17, in 1957, but got interested in revolutionary theory while working as a lecturer at Mahabubnagar. It was during this time that he founded a literature and poetry group called Sahithee Mithrulu and a non-political journal named Srujana to eventually join the Tirugubadu Kavulu (Rebel Poets), who were sympathetic to the armed struggle going on in Srikakulam.
During this time, VV founded the Virasam or Viplava Rachayitala Sangham (Revolutionary Writers’ Association), an association banned by the Andhra Pradesh government in August 2005. The ban was later struck down by the AP High Court in November 2005.
VV, now 74, has published 15 poetry collections of his own, besides having edited a number of anthologies. His poetry has been translated into almost all Indian languages and have appeared in Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and Bengali. His thesis on ‘Telangana Liberation Struggle and Telugu Novel – A Study into Interconnection between Society and Literature’ published in 1983 is considered to be one of the finest works of Marxist critical studies done in Telugu. While in prison he translated Kenyan writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s prison diary ‘Detained’ and his novel ‘Devil on the Cross’ into Telugu. He also wrote his own prison diary Sahacharulu (1990), which was translated into English as Captive Imagination.
VV was first arrested under the infamous Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) in Andhra Pradesh, in 1973. He was then arrested during Emergency and was re-arrested at the entrance of the jail and kept imprisoned for an additional week when the Emergency was lifted. He survived many attempts on his life post-Emergency.
He was among the 46 accused of conspiring to overthrow the Andhra Pradesh government in the Secunderabad conspiracy case, and was sent to jail once again in 1985. He was also an accused in the Ramnagar conspiracy case where he was accused to have attended a meeting where the plan to kill two Andhra Pradesh Police constables was hatched. He was finally acquitted of the charges after 17 years, in 2003.
He remains a staunch opposer of neo-liberal globalisation and specifically the globalisation policies adopted by Chandrababu Naidu’s government in the ’90s. He went as an emissary for the People’s War Group in the peace negotiations between the Andhra Pradesh government and Naxalites. After multiple rounds of the talks failed, Virasam was banned only to be reinstated later. Following the banning, Rao was arrested once again in 2005 and was released in 2006. He has been arrested four-times since the formation of the new Telangana state in 2014.
VV has faced at least nine cases under the Arms Act of 1959 and the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 over the last four decades. In perhaps the most ridiculous case, he was charged with distributing bombs to ensure the success of a strike against the custodial death of a Radical Students Union activist in 1985. In response, Varavara Rao wrote a memorable poem, titled :
Reflection I did not supply the explosives Nor ideas for that matter It was you who trod with iron heels Upon the anthill And from the trampled earth Sprouted the ideas of vengeance It was you who struck the beehive With your lathi The sound of the scattering bees Exploded in your shaken facade Blotched red with fear When the victory drum started beating In the heart of the masses You mistook it for a person and trained your guns Revolution echoed from all horizons …
Varavara Rao (VV) was born in Warangal in 1940. He finished his MA in Telugu literature from Osmania University. He worked as a lecturer in several colleges and transformation towards revolutionary ideas started in Varavara Rao’s mind during his tenure in Mahabubnagar district. …
In one of her letters to her daughter, Shoma writes, “They can keep me locked inside, but my mind is completely free”
A reputed academician, a Dalit and Women’s Rights activist, a teacher and dissenter, Shoma Sen is all of the above and more. Born and raised in Mumbai, she moved to Nagpur with her partner and daughter with a strong resolve to protect and promote democratic rights of the most marginalised people in the society.
Shoma has been a respected academic for almost three decades. She has been actively involved with the Women’s Department of Wardha Vishwavidyalaya and taught in various colleges across Nagpur. During the time of her arrest she was the Head of the Department of English at Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University. She has written extensively on post-colonialism and women’s studies for several decades. …
The letters, which The Indian Express has access to, reveal a slice of their lives behind bars. Some talk about when they can possibly see the gallows, some are abstract ruminations on life and freedom, while some dwell on the circumstances of their arrest and merits of the case. Read more
‘Life not comfortable in jail, Shoma has lost 7 kgs´
Nagpur: “It’s Independence Day and the second year of my unfreedom begins. Last year on 14th August, I was shifted into the separate cell, my compact little world,” reads a letter written from Yerawada Jail by Shoma Sen, one of the five accused in Bhima Koregaon violence case, to her husband, Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya in Nagpur on August 15 this year. Read more