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Who is Sudha Bharadwaj?

Who is Sudha Bharadwaj?

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy

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?

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Who is Varavara Rao?

Who is Varavara Rao?

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy

“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 …


WHO IS VARAVARA RAO?

By India Civil Watch

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.

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Who is Shoma Sen?

Who is Shoma Sen?

By Mumbai Rises To Save Democracy

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.

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Who is Arun Ferreira?

Who is Arun Ferreira?

By India Civil Watch

Arun Ferreira is a human rights lawyer from Mumbai, India. He is a member of the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) and the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL). He studied at Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s College where he developed a strong social conscience, and organised the institution’s canteen workers to demand better work conditions. After college, he worked with slum dwellers in Mumbai before becoming a community organiser in Vidarbha (rural Maharashtra state).

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Who is Vernon Gonsalves?

Who is Vernon Gonsalves?

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy

Characterised by a loose cotton half sleeve shirt, loose trousers, spectacles, a jhola and a hearty laughter, Vernon Gonsalves comes across as an effervescent wise man. Gonsalves gets along well with everyone from the age of six to sixty. His demeanour reflects an inner happiness. He started a band in college, but gave it up to be a part of people’s movements. His songs still hold the flavour of 70s rock.
Vernon’s pen is as sharp as his vision for an equitable, just society without distinctions of class, caste, race, with principles of gender equality and justice at its core. He is an acute political observer and makes nuanced arguments about complex sociopolitical-economic issues. Vernon has shown a keenness to understand the latest undercurrents in progressive politics.
He was born to a Mangalorean Catholic couple and grew up in a chawl in a modest locality in Byculla in Mumbai. Vernon was always good with academics and won a gold medal in Commerce from Mumbai University. Subsequently, he left his corporate job in Siemens to work with trade unions, workers, slum dwellers and the working class in Mumbai. During this period, he taught in prominent colleges in Mumbai including Ruparel College, HR College of Commerce and Economics, and Akbar Peerbhoy College of Commerce and Economics. Very few know that, in college he wanted to be a musician. Rumours say that he had also started a band but could not find meaning in it.
Around 1983, he moved to Chandrapur near Nagpur to work with unorganised sector workers including the coal-mine workers in the area. In 1984, he married fellow activist Susan Abraham. It was a union of two unique and fiercely independent minds. They worked in Chandrapur for a decade. After their son Sagar was born in 1994, they returned to Mumbai.
On 19 August 2007, the Maharashtra ATS arrested Vernon from his residence in Andheri, Mumbai. His arrest was falsely shown as from the residence of his co-accused S. Shridhar in Govandi. They were charged with being “top-level” Naxalites having explosives in their possession. For some months prior to this, Vernon had been working for the rights of tribal communities in the Maharashtra district of Chandrapur. 20 cases were filed against him. He spent nearly six years in jail while his trial dragged on as an undertrial. He was acquitted in 18 cases, convicted in one against which his appeal is pending in the Nagpur HC while the application for discharge in the last case in Gujarat is pending before the High Court.
During his years as an undertrial in jail, Vernon spent most of his time writing. He is now working on a collection of prison writings. He edited a set of short stories written while imprisoned, one of which, “Jailbird Jabbar” was written in a typical staccato Bambaiya patois style. He also translated stories by Annabhau Sathe from Marathi to English for Aleph Publication’s “A Clutch of Short Stories.” After his release he wrote articles on prevailing law, rights of Dalit and tribal communities, the condition of prisons in India, land grabbing by the nexus of Corporates and the Government, misuse of the criminal justice system by the governments against marginalised communities, and scrapping of UAPA. One of his last published articles titled “Harsher Punishments and Retributive Criminal Justice” is a landmark commentary on the trends of crime control vis-a-vis justice system in the country.
Vernon’s son Sagar sums what everyone close to him feels about him:
“Among the many things that I admire greatly about my father is his commitment to his beliefs and ideals.To stand up for what is right and help those whose rights are denied – he has always done that and will continue to do so. This did not deter him the last time and will not do it now as well. He has an unbreakable spirit and will always stay true to what he believes in.”

 

WHO IS VERNON GONSALVES?

By India Civil Watch

Vernon Gonsalves is trade unionist, activist, an academic (former professor of business management in a college in Mumbai) and a writer, who writes extensively on Dalit and adivasi rights, the conditions of prisons in India and the routine violation of rights of prisoners. Along with Arun Ferriera, he has authored a number of popular articles on the condition of Indian jails, the abuse of authority by Indian police, and draconian laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), a piece of ‘anti-terror’ legislation with a wide ambit and vague concepts, which allows its misuse against academics, lawyers and human rights defenders. Equally importantly, their writings expose the hypocrisy of democracy in India.

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Who is Sudhir Dhawale?

Who is Sudhir Dhawale?

By India Civil Watch

After spending close to four years (2011-2014) in jail in India (where he was denied every kind of human right) on charges of being a ‘Naxalite’, Sudhir Dhawale was acquitted of all charges. Reflecting on his traumatic experience, Sudhir soberly identifies his private struggle as being part of a much larger public and collective struggle for democratic values. Sudhir:

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Who is Mahesh Raut?

Who is Mahesh Raut?


Mahesh Raut (left) and Lalsu Narote. Foto credit: Javed Iqbal/ The Wire

By India Civil Watch

Lalsu Nogoti, an elected district council member from Bhamragad in Maharashtra is speaking about the work of Mahesh Raut:

“He first came to us as a part of the PMRD [Prime Minister’s Rural Development] fellowship in 2013. He would visit every village with other government officials and meticulously note down grievances and parallelly also research on several village and state-level policies that could come to our rescue. His work in the formative years helped us build our struggles in the coming days.”

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Who is Rona Wilson?

Who is Rona Wilson?

By India Civil Watch

Rona Wilson is the 47-year old Public Relations Secretary of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP). He was arrested under the UAPA on June 6, 2018, in Delhi, at the same time as Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, and Mahesh Raut in Nagpur and Sudhir Dhawale in Mumbai, and accused of channeling Maoist funds for the Elgar Parishad and fomenting violence in Bhima Koregaon.

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Who is Gautam Navlakha?

Who is Gautam Navlakha?

By India Civil Watch

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. He has been actively involved with the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) – one of India’s leading civil liberties and democratic rights defence organizations- working to protect, extend and help implement fundamental rights as guaranteed in the Indian constitution.
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How the ‘anda cell’ is used to discipline inmates / Do we run to courts for basic human rights? / Video

How the ‘anda cell’ is used to discipline inmates / Do we run to courts for basic human rights? / Video

How the ‘anda cell’ is used to discipline prison inmates

28/10/2021

The Indian Express / by Jinee Lokaneeta

The torturous practice of solitary confinement, whether for 24 hours or a large part of a day, remains a key feature of modern prisons, sometimes by another name. The continued use of an “anda” (egg-shaped) cell or high security cell in the Indian context appears to be, in effect, the use of solitary confinement — defined by many as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or torture — by another name. The news that eminent journalist and human rights activist and scholar implicated in the Bhima Koregaon case, Gautam Navlakha, has been moved to an “anda” circle in Taloja jail on October 12 is just another reminder that imprisonment itself appears inadequate for the state.
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Do we run to courts for basic human rights? asks Navlakha’s partner, says he’s not allowed to call

27/10/2021

The Print / by Bismee Taskin

Sahba Husain says the rights activist has also been denied access to the library, canteen and jail’s green areas ever since he was shifted to the high-security Anda cell.
It was in April last year when human rights activist Gautam Navlakha surrendered before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Since then Navlakha has been in prison — first in Delhi’s Tihar jail and then in the Taloja jail in Mumbai. Earlier this month, the 70-year-old, along with five other accused, was shifted to the high-security ‘Anda cell’ of the Mumbai prison.
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Also watch: Book Launch “Colours of the Cage”


en | 1h 10min | 2014
‘Colours of the Cage’ is the real story of what goes on behind bars – it isn’t like the celluloid or novelistic versions that readers are familiar with. However, it is not just a harrowing account of life in prison but also a memoir of astonishing power – about a man’s stubborn fight for justice and the triumph of the human will.
This video was recorded at the launch of Arun’s book ‘Colours of the Cage’ on the 26th of September, 2014 at the Press Club, Mumbai. Seated on the dais from the left, are journalist-author Naresh Fernandes, author-poet Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and playwright-director Ramu Ramanathan.
Watch video


Also read:
Kin of jailed activists write to authorities to not discontinue telephone calls (Sabrangindia / Oct 25, 2021)

Varavara Rao need not surrender before jail officials until November 18, says HC

Varavara Rao need not surrender before jail officials until November 18, says HC

Varavara Rao need not surrender before jail officials until November 18, says HC

27/10/2021

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

The court asked the poet-activist to file a separate plea seeking permission to shift from Mumbai to his hometown in Hyderabad.
Poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, need not surrender before the Taloja Jail authorities in Navi Mumbai until November 18, the Bombay High Court said on Tuesday, according to PTI.
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HC says Varavara Rao needn’t surrender till Nov 18

26/10/2021

The Leaflet / by The Leaflet

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case who is on interim bail, need not surrender before the Taloja prison authorities until November 18 and adjourned the hearing on a plea filed by him to next month.
Rao, 82, had been granted interim bail for six months on medical grounds by the HC on February 22 this year.
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Also read: Varavara Rao moves Karnataka HC against non-bailable warrant in 2005 case (Gauri Lankesh News, Oct 26, 2021)

In Jharkhand, Scheduled Tribes Still Battle Flimsy Criminal Cases Filed With Little Evidence

In Jharkhand, Scheduled Tribes Still Battle Flimsy Criminal Cases Filed With Little Evidence

Indiaspend / by Riddhi Dastidar

Among undertrials charged with being Maoists under stringent, non-bailable offences in Jharkhand, high numbers are Adivasis, Scheduled Castes and OBCs, a study led by late Fr. Stan Swamy had found in 2015. An alleged encounter during an Adivasi festival six years later shows not much has changed.
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Condemn The Solitary Confinement Of The Bhima Koregaon Accused!

Condemn The Solitary Confinement Of The Bhima Koregaon Accused!

By Peoples Union for Democratic Rights

CONDEMN THE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT AND CONTINUING HARASSMENT OF THE BHIMA KOREGAON ACCUSED BY TALOJA CENTRAL JAIL AUTHORITIES!
STOP PUNISHING POLITICAL PRISONERS FOR THEIR BELIEFS!

The high handedness of the Taloja Central Jail administration was evident in the events leading to the death of the octogenarian Bhima Koregaon undertrail, Stan Swamy on July 5, 2021. Almost immediately, the remaining BK undertrials protested the arbitrary jail conditions imposed by the then Superintendent, Kaustabh Kurlekar by observing a one-day hunger strike. However, far from bringing such persecution to an end, a new repressive regime has been installed by Superintendent UT Pawar. Its latest manifestation is the transfer of Vernon Gonsalves, Sagar Gokhale, Ramesh Gaichor, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale and most recently on 12 October 2021 Gautam Navlakha to the ‘anda’ circle, the high security prison area in Taloja Jail. Imprisonment in the anda cell is a form of solitary confinement which is blatantly illegal in the case of undertrial prisoners.
Read full statement

Varavara Rao moves Karnataka HC against non-bailable warrant in 2005 case

Varavara Rao moves Karnataka HC against non-bailable warrant in 2005 case

Varavara Rao moves Karnataka HC against non-bailable warrant in 2005 case

26/10/2021

Gauri Lankesh News / by Gauri Lankesh News Desk

A lower court in Madhugiri district of Karnataka has issued summons to Varavara Rao in one of the cases dating back to 2005.
Last week a lower court in Karnataka issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Telugu poet Varavara Rao in connection with the 2005 police massacre case. In response to that his counsel has filed a petition before the Karnataka High Court pleading to set aside warrant.
… The police alleged that the provocative speeches of Rao and Gaddar resulted in the Naxal attack. While 22 persons who were facing similar charges were later acquitted but the case against these two people continued.
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Madhugiri court issue non-bailable warrant against revolutionary poet Varavara Rao

24/10/2021

The New Indian Express / by Espress News Service

The court, in its order on Thursday, has also forfeited the surety bond of Rs 50,000, said his counsel Nagi Reddy.
The fourth additional district and sessions court at Madhugiri in Tumakuru district recently issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against revolutionary poet Varavara Rao for not appearing before it in a case concerning the massacre of six KSRP men by Naxalites on February 6, 2005 at Venkatammanahalli of Pavagada taluk.
… Rao was booked as one of the accused with the charge that his speech in Bengaluru might have also played a role in Naxal retaliation.
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Varavara Rao to move HC on non-bailable warrant

22/10/2021

The Hindu / by Special Correspondent

Additional sessions court in Madhugiri issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) on Thursday to poet-activist Varavara Rao in connection with the Naxal attack case dating back to 2005. It issued the warrant for non-appearance before the court.
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Allow phone calls with prisoners, say kin of Elgar Parishad accused

Allow phone calls with prisoners, say kin of Elgar Parishad accused

Allow phone calls with prisoners, say kin of Elgar Parishad accused

26/10/2021

Times of India / by Shishir Arya

Relatives of the Elgar Parishad case accused lodged in jail have demanded that the special facility of allowing phone calls by prisoners started during the Covid pandemic should not be discontinued. The facility has been demanded for all the prisoners, irrespective of the cases under which they have been held.
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Kin of jailed activists write to authorities to not discontinue telephone calls

25/10/2021

Sabrangindia / by Sabrangindia

Since prisons are all set to resume physical mulaqats, the authorities have informed the families that weekly calls will no longer be functional.
The family members of the accused undertrials in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, have written to the Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) and Special Inspector General of Police (Prisons) to continue the weekly phone calls with them.
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Trying Without a Trial Is the Intent of Draconian UAPA Law

Trying Without a Trial Is the Intent of Draconian UAPA Law

The Wire / by Rajshree Chandra

‘Trial by process’ is the political and organisational logic of the UAPA.
An 84-year-old Jesuit Father, Stan Swamy, charged for inciting violence in Bhima Koregaon (BK), died inside the panoptic walls of the Taloja jail on July 5. Despite his age, despite his Parkinson’s-ravaged body, despite his tremors, despite his Covid infection, despite all his frailties, he had been denied bail repeatedly. Rather than his ailing, failing body becoming a ground for bail and appropriate medical care, his body became yet another ground on which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) waged its vicious war.
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Gautam Navlakha has consistently spoken out on behalf of people being persecuted in India

Gautam Navlakha has consistently spoken out on behalf of people being persecuted in India

Man behind early authentic field report on Sikh Genocide is in jail; will the world take notice?

24/10/2021

Straight.com / by Gurpeet Singh

Gautam Navlakha has consistently spoken out on behalf of people being persecuted in India.
As we approach the first week of November, marking the 37th anniversary of the Sikh massacre in India, a scholar who helped document the tragedy is struggling for his release from an Indian jail.
Gautam Navlakha, who was arrested in April 2020 on trumped-up charges along with other prominent scholars and social-justice activists, is currently lodged in prison near Mumbai. His only crime is that he dared to question the powerful and has always stood up for minorities and the oppressed.
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By Radical Desi (Oct 24)
@desi_radical invites all media persons and scholars to our rally in support of jailed Indian journalist Gautam Navlakha, who was instrumental behind first authentic field report on #SikhGenocide on Sunday, October 31 at 5 pm outside Indian Visa office in Surrey (Canada)

Gautam Navlakha’s health has worsened in jail, not being allowed phone calls, says his partner

Gautam Navlakha’s health has worsened in jail, not being allowed phone calls, says his partner

Phone calls, daily walks in jail’s green area stopped, says Navlakha’s partner

24/10/2021

The Hindu / by Special Correspondent

His fragile health and well-being will be further jeopardised by these actions, says Sahba Husain.
Activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha, who was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case in 2020, has recently been shifted to a high-security section of the Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai and not allowed to call his family and lawyers, said his partner, Sahba Husain, in a statement on Sunday.
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Gautam Navlakha’s health has worsened in jail, not being allowed phone calls, says his partner

24/10/2021

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

The health condition of activist Gautam Navlakha deteriorated after he was shifted to the high-security barrack called the “Anda circle” in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja Jail, his partner Sahba Husain said on Sunday.
In a statement, Husain also said that the Bhima Koregaon case accused was not being allowed to make phone calls to his family members and lawyers.
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Full Statement by Sabha Husain

Clickt to enlarge
Only ‘objectionable’ letters are being withheld by prison authorities: NIA to Bombay HC

Only ‘objectionable’ letters are being withheld by prison authorities: NIA to Bombay HC

Only ‘objectionable’ letters of accused are being withheld by prison authorities: NIA to Bombay HC

23/10/2021

Sabrangindia / by Sabrangindia

Families of accused persons Anand Teltumbde and Vernon Gonsalves have alleged that the prison authorities are withholding letters sent to and received from the jailed activities.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), that is investigating the Bhima Koregaon violence case, has informed the Bombay high court that jail authorities are only withholding “objectionable” letters written by the Bhima Koregaon accused.
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Anand Teltumbde’s Letters Alleged Planting Of Evidence On Computer, Had Objectionable Contents, Hence Withheld: NIA

23/10/2021

Live Law / by Sharmeen Hakim

Taloja Prison officials only restricted “objectionable” and “incriminating” letters written by Professor Anand Teltumbde and activist Vernon Gonsalves as it was “hampering the trial” and material against them in the Bhima-Koregaon Elgar Parishad Case, the National Investigating Agency has said.
The NIA’s reply responds to their wives’ – Rama Teltumbde and Susan Abraham’s – plea in the Bombay High Court seeking action against the then Superintendent of Taloja Prison for withholding communication with family.
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Only those letters of accused with suspicious content withheld: NIA to Bombay High Court

23/10/2021

Bar & Bench / by Neha Joshi

The NIA’s submission came in response to a plea by wives of Anand Teltumbde and Vernon Gonsalves, alleging that superintendent of Taloja Central Prison was withholding letters sent to and received from family members.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has told the Bombay High Court that not all letters written by Bhima Koregaon accused to their family members are being withheld by the jail superintendent.
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