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.
One of Nagpur’s most successful lawyers, Gadling took it upon himself to fight for the rights of Adivasis who were picked up and thrown inside jail after being tagged Maoists. Now he, too, is lodged in jail, without an end of his trial in sight.
There are many ways you could begin the story of lawyer Surendra Gadling, incarcerated in Mumbai’s Taloja Jail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged role in the 2018 Bhima-Koregaon violence. You could, for instance, leap over the events of June 6, 2018, the day he was arrested, to begin the story from June 11. Read more
In the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case, leading activists, lawyers, scholars and artists have been arrested without trial under the charges of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (‘UAPA’). According to the police, allegedly provocative statements and speeches made at the Elgar Parishad meeting in Pune on December 31, 2017, instigated the violence at Bhima Koregaon the following day on January 1, 2018 that led to death of one and injuries to several others …
The Leaflet brings to its readers a brief profile of each of the arrested persons, and the developments in the case pertaining to each. Read more
Sagar Gorkhe, termed Maoist twice and sent to jail, where he fights for the rights of the inmates, continues writing songs—of hope: “From wounds shall burst out vines/Learning how to blossom again”
agar Gorkhe, a Dalit accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case, was on the fourth day of his hunger strike at Mumbai’s Taloja Central Jail when his mother Surekha learnt about it, via a WhatsApp forward on her daughter’s mobile. Surekha stopped taking food. Her family and members of the Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural troupe to which Sagar belongs, tried to coax her into eating. Read more
‘Unjust’ jail and death can’t eclipse Stan Swamy’s work
The Telegraph / by Pheroze L. Vincent
Jesuit priest has been honoured by Martin Ennals Foundation in Geneva for showing exceptional commitment to defending and promoting human rights.
Stan Swamy, the human rights defender and Jesuit priest who died in judicial custody in Mumbai at the age of 84, has been posthumously honoured by the Martin Ennals Foundation in Geneva. Read more
What is the Martin Ennals Award, the ‘human rights Nobel’, which honoured Father Stan Swamy?
The Indian Express / by Dipanita Nath
In a special move this year, the Martin Ennals Foundation posthumously honoured Father Stan Swamy for his “many contributions to human rights”. Who was Martin Ennals, and what is the intention of the award?
Every year, the Martin Ennals Foundation, based in Geneva, Switzerland, gives out an award that is regarded as the Nobel Prize for human rights defenders. The recipients of this year’s awards include Daouda Diallo from Burkina Faso, Pham Doan Trang from Vietnam and Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja of Bahrain. Read more
Late Indian Jesuit honored with rights ‘Nobel Prize’
UCA News / by UCA News reporter
Father Stan Swamy, the late Indian Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, has been posthumously awarded the Martin Ennals Award, regarded as the Nobel Prize for human rights defenders…
Though the award was presented posthumously, the priest was chosen for it while he was still alive. “Father Stan was nominated for the award in spring 2021, but he sadly passed away before it could reach him,” said Hans Thoolen, chair of the award jury. Read more
‘Death of Imagination’ / Hindutva, Sangh Parivar, UAPA: Penguin Censors Words From VV Rao’s Book
Penguin Random House Drops ‘Hindutva’, Other Words From Varavara Rao’s Latest Book: Report
The Wire / by The Wire Staff
The said words, from the book which is yet to be released, have been removed by the publishers’ legal team purportedly to avoid attracting charges such as sedition or defamation.
Penguin Random House India’s legal team has allegedly removed words like ‘Hindutva’, ‘Sangh Parivar’ and ‘saffronisation’ from Telugu poet Varavara Rao’s latest book Varavara Rao: A Revolutionary Poet, the Quint has reported.
The book, which is yet to be released, will become the first English-translated collection of poems by the 81-year-old Rao, who was arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. He is at present out on medical bail. Read more
‘Death of Imagination’: Meena Kandasamy on Penguin Censoring Varavara Rao’s Book
The Quint / by Nikhila Henry
Meena Kandasamy, an editor of Varavara Rao’s book, says climate of fear among publishers is real in India.
Penguin Random House (PRH), a leading publisher in India, has prescribed removal of several words including ‘Hindutva,’ ‘Sangh Parivar,’ and ‘Ayodhya,’ from Telugu poet Varavara Rao’s book – Varavara Rao: The Revolutionary Poet.
Poet, novelist, and translator Meena Kandasamy, who is one of the editors of the book, speaks to The Quint in an interview about the legal vetting. Read more
Hindutva, Sangh Parivar, UAPA: Penguin Censors Words From Varavara Rao’s Book
The Quint / by Nkikhila Henry
References to ‘revolution,’ saffronisation’ and ‘Ayodhya’ in poet Varavara Rao’s poems were flagged by Penguin.
Penguin Random House India, a leading publisher in the country, has prescribed censorship of Telugu poet Varavara Rao’s poems for fear of being slapped with sedition and defamation charges, reveal comments from the legal team of the publisher, posted on the latest edit of the book Varavara Rao: A Revolutionary Poet. Read more
‘After the pandemic began, they suddenly shut down the prisons; for three months, we did not know what was happening.’
‘There were no phone calls, no letters, no news from inside.’
‘We were struggling to get any kind of information about them, about their health.’
Your mother is in jail.
You are outside, doing everything possible to secure her release.
Then, COVID strikes.
And, for nearly three months, in the outside world, you are seeing the devastation it has wrought.
And, every second, you are wondering how your mother is surviving the dreaded disease within those prison walls.
But you don’t know.
The situation is chaotic and you have no word.
That is the trauma that Koel Sen, film-maker, columnist and daughter of Professor Shoma Sen, one of the 16 arrested in the infamous Bhima Koregaon case, went through in the first half of 2020. Read more
Every moment of joy has each family member of the youngest of the accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case murmur “wish you were here,” the title of Pink Floyd’s haunting song on aching absences.
A lady in a house at Wadsa, Gadchiroli district, rages and switches off the television every time Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears on it. The lady is an aunt of Mahesh Raut, who, at 34, is the youngest of the accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case and has been languishing in prison since his arrest on June 6, 2018. That house at Wadsa, where a family of 14 children and adults live, is home to Mahesh. Read more
Falling in love while trying to affect a change in the society, as their hearts beat for adivasis and dalits, the couple has now spent in jail nine out of 31 years of their life together.
I called up Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya, husband of Shoma Sen, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, on May 9, with a request: could he tell me their story—she languishing in jail and he alone outside? He said it was on this day in 1991 that Shoma and he were married. Read more
As draconian UAPA ensures freedom eludes the 69-year-old rights activist even after 2 years, Sahba Husain, his partner of 26 years, suffers immensely but keeps the flame of love and resistance burning.
Writer Sahba Husain rattles out from memory all the dates of twists and turns during her ongoing struggle to keep the flame of love and resistance burning. She remembers the date (August 28, 2018) when the Pune Police raided her home to arrest her partner and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. Read more
‘The only way to kill time in prison is to read and she can’t even do that properly any more.’
‘Her knees, too, are in terrible shape. I could see how she was trying to hide her pain every time she got up from the bench where she was seated.’
Koel Sen, her daughter, tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Neeta Kolhatkar how this “travesty of justice” has taken a huge toll on the family.
Three years, 11 months to the day.
That’s how long Professor Shoma Sen, the former head of the English literature department at Nagpur University — she was suspended after her arrest — has been in prison for her alleged involvement in the *Bhima Koregaon case. Read more