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Who is Sudha Bharadwaj?

Who is Sudha Bharadwaj?

Sudha Bharadwaj

Nov 2019

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?

Sudha grew up to illustrious parents, and spent the first part of her life as an American citizen. In the next 30 years of her life, she worked tirelessly in Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM) as a trade unionist and eventually as a lawyer after the CMM, hamstrung in their legal battles by unscrupulous lawyers, found in her the courage and integrity needed to challenge powerful opponents in the courtrooms.

She founded Janhit, giving rigorous legal aid to several industrial workers, villages fighting acquisition and mining, Adivasi communities fighting for forest rights, environmental cases and PIL litigation. Janhit led cases against powerful industrial houses such as Jindal, Vedanta, BALCO, Lafarge Holcim, D.B. Power, Vandana Vidyut, SECL, Bhilai Steel Plant, Monnet Steel, Adani, Hindalco, Grasim, Ultratech and others.

Sudha was instrumental in rebuilding the PUCL group after the arrest and incarceration of its then-President, Dr. Binayak Sen. During this time, she was appointed as the General Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and worked on issues of human trafficking and attacks on minorities. She also assisted families of victims of human rights violations looked upon as casualties in the conflict zone of Bastar and supported journalists and activists who dared raise their voices and pen against the State excesses in Bastar. She was elected recently as Vice President of the Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL) and was active in campaigns against attacks on Dalit and human rights lawyers in Chhattisgarh and facilitated an IAPL fact-finding into it.

Sudha was arrested from her Faridabad home which she was sharing with her daughter, Maaysha. During this time, she was a Visiting Professor at the National Law University Delhi, taking Seminar Courses on tribal rights, land acquisition, and the Fifth and Sixth Schedules. This year she was to have taught “Law and Justice in a Globalising World”. Sadly, and ironically, she can’t teach the class as she is in jail. The loss, the students inform us, is all theirs.

Her daughter Maaysha, has in several letters candidly brought to fore Sudha’s tireless spirit and her commitment to her work, “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.”

Guneet Ahuja, Advocate, Delhi, in an open letter writes about Sudha, “On my first meeting with Sudha ji, I asked her about the competing narratives regarding the condition of indigenous communities in Bastar. Her reply left a deep impact on me: “For a pedestrian on a narrow lane, the car driver is causing the trouble. For the car driver, the pedestrian is the nuisance. Your perspectives change based on where you are placed.”

Sudha is the pedestrian along with all the people she fights for. She believes the road belongs to us. The State is the car who doesn’t want nuisance pedestrians in the way, believes the road belongs to it, and wants it lined with the businesses of its cronies. To the State, Sudha belongs in jail. To us, she is a defender of human rights.

“If you try to be safe and in the middle, you will never succeed.”
Sudha, The Wire


Sudha Bharadwaj Speaks – A Life in Law and Activism


Publisher: Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
Edition: January 2021
Language: English
Sudha Bharadwaj’s interview by: Darshana Mitra and Santanu Chakraborty
Pictures credit: PUCL
Cover Design / Layout: Vinay Jain
Paperback: 316 pages

PDF copy: Sudha Bharadwaj speaks – A Life in Law and Activism (PUCL, Jan 2021)

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Who is Varavara Rao?

Who is Varavara Rao?

Varavara Rao

Nov 2019

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?

Sudhir Dhawale

Nov 2019

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy

Sudhir believes that every revolution has to be “unique”

Sudhir Dhawale’s rm commitment to activism is grounded in his belief in justice. Growing up in Indora , a centre of Ambedkarite politics in Nagpur, Sudhir has since his younger days, been actively involved in the struggles for human rights and dignity. He was part of people’s movement in Nagpur until 1994 then moved to Bombay in search of work opportunities.

From 1995, Sudhir Dhawale dedicated his life towards ghting against the atrocities on Dalits and other marginalized communities.. He was active in the streets and in the courts and has worked on incidents of Dalit atrocities such as the Ghatkopar Ramabai Nagar Dalit Hatyakand, in which 10 Dalits were gunned down by the Mumbai police for agitating against the desecration of a Dr. Ambedkar Statue in 1997. He was also involved in the Khairlanji agitation (against the massacre of a Dalit family in 2006), the Baban Misal murder in Ahmadnagar district in 2008, the ruthless murder of Sahebrao Jondhale in Marathwada in 2008, the Sadashiv Salve Guruji murder in Beed district in 2009, the Manorama Kamble gang rape and murder case in Nagpur in 2009, the Rohidas Tupe murder in Palgaon near Aurangabad in 2009, and many more cases of atrocities against Dalits in Maharashtra.

In 2002, following the Gujarat pogrom massacres, he started a Marathi magazine named Vidrohi. It started as a four-page magazine and soon doubled into eight pages. In a few years, it took the shape of a full- edged magazine which was published twice every month and spoke of pertinent issues concerning the country. It continues to play a pivotal role in bringing in the Dalit voice on human rights abuse of Dalits and other minorities across India, and also publishes fact- nding reports and valuable literature.

After the Khairlanji massacre took place in 2006, many Ambedkarite, left and other progressive organizations felt the need to form and drive a movement based on anti- caste politics with a concrete long-term program of caste annihilation. With this understanding, on December 6, 2007 at the Chaityabhoomi in Mumbai, the Republican Panthers Jaatiya Antachi Chalwal (Republican Panthers Caste Annihilation Movement) was formed. Sudhir, one of the founding members of this organisation, with years of experience and political intellect, evolved a new theoretical framework for the Republican Panthers situating the caste annihilation program at its centre. As a cultural group, Republican Panthers brought their revolutionary music and street theatre to the slums, trade unions, school and protests, to describe the atrocity that is the Hindu caste system.

In 2011, the Maharashtra police arrested Dhawale on charges of sedition and of being a member of and providing support to a terrorist organisation. In May 2014, after Dhawale had spent 40 months in incarceration, RG Asmar—a judge presiding over a special UAPA court in Gondia, a district in Maharashtra— pronounced a judgment acquitting Dhawale and eight others of all charges. The judgment was strongly worded, and the court came down heavily against the state police for its investigation.

It is believed that it was the magazine Vidrohi that brought the ire of the establishment and became the reason for his arrest. Upon his release Sudhir did not only increase the reach of Vidrohi but also led many protests and marches on di erent social issues. He was actively leading several joint fronts formed against caste atrocities, like the Jatiya Atyachar Virodhi Kruti Samiti, the Joint Action Committee for Social justice, the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prearna Abhiyan and many more.
Incidentally, the lawyer who represented him in the 2011 case was Surendra Gadling, his co-accused in the current Bhima Koregaon case.

Sudhir also incorporated his political experiences and understanding on the paper. It was not only through the Vidrohi magazine, but also many books that he wrote and edited, on diverse socio-political issues. During his time in prison, he has written three books. His writings are sharpened through the assimilation of the pain and struggle of the masses.

Sudhir along with others, had called for the Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017, bringing together Dalit, Maratha and Muslim leaders on one platform to commemorate the two- hundredth anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle and to discuss the State’s crackdown on the marginalised sections of the society.

As an organizer, writer, poet, playwright, freelance journalist and editor of Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Sudhir Dhawale has tried to bring the issues of injustice and atrocities against Dalits in the public domain to make democracy a substantive force and movement in the country.

Sudhir’s words are active, gritty, and capable of moving stones.
Sudhir explains that every revolution has to be “unique”.
To our own unique Revolution…

“What sort of a city is this?

What sort of people are you?

When injustice is done there should
be a revolt in the city.

And if there is no revolt,

It were better that the city should
perish in fire before the night falls…”

Lines from The good Person of Szechwan
a play written by Brecht. The lines
in Marathi were quated in the fir for
`provoking´ the crowd present in Elgar Parishad.



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

Mahesh Raut

Nov 2019

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy

“Mahesh is highly loved and respected in all these villages and one with the people I visited. They treated him as if he were a member of their own house!”

Hailing from Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, Mahesh Raut is a young prominent activist working for the rights of Adivasi communities in his district. Born in Lakhapur, a small village in Maharashtra, Mahesh completed his schooling from Gadchiroli and moved to Nagpur for graduation. He later went on to pursue higher education from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. On completing his education he worked as Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) in Gadchiroli. He has tirelessly advocated for laws like The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act and Forest Rights Act which protect the democratic rights of indigenous communities against unlawful land grabbing by large corporations. Mahesh has consistently worked to protect and promote the rights of the marginalised within a Constitutional framework. On completion of his fellowship, Mahesh decided to continue working with the Adivasi communities in the State.

Mahesh organised and participated in mass movements to abet the cause of social welfare. He was the co-convenor of Visthapan Vidrohi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) which ghts against the forced displacement of Adivasis and other marginalised people. As a member of VVJVA, Mahesh organised the Tendu leaves workers from Adivasi communities of the region to sell them directly in the market without the involvement of middlemen.

Along with campaigning for the Adivasis of the region, he also joined the Bharat Jan Andolan (BJA), an organisation started by late BD Sharma. Through his work with BJA, Mahesh has been instrumental in organising people for participative decision making in regions a ected by mining projects, including the Surajgarh mining project.

His work against the atrocities of Police and several State authorities led to several cases being led against him. According to a letter drafted by his PMRDF fellows, the State’s crackdown on Mahesh started from 2013 citing his consistent political engagement as one of the reasons for his harassment. His friend and fellow activist Sohini Shoaib, working in Bihar writes about her visit to Gadchiroli, “Mahesh was highly loved and respected in all these villages and one with the people I visited. They treated him as if he were a member of their own house! Some of them even tried to get me to convince him to get married: they thought he worked too hard and did not take care of his health enough. They hoped that nding a partner would help him feel less lonely, help him balance other aspects of life!”

In 2018, Mahesh was picked up by the Pune Police for his alleged involvement in organising the Elgar Parishad and his alleged Maoist links. He was booked under sections of the UAPA and arrested from his residence in Nagpur. Neither was he involved in organising the Elgar Parishad nor did he attend the 31st December events. His arrest is a clear crackdown of the State on Human Rights defenders who are struggling against the State and Corporation nexus. His contributions to promote and uphold Constitutional rights of the marginalised identities have led him to persecution and consequent imprisonment. His incarceration is a standing testament of the State’s repression of Rights’ activists who protect the values of the Constitution which the same State is trampling upon.



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

Who is Mahesh Raut?

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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‘Pattern’ of UAPA Being Abused / You spent 10 years in jail for nothing. Who should pay for it?

‘Pattern’ of UAPA Being Abused / You spent 10 years in jail for nothing. Who should pay for it?

Elgar Parishad Case: Bail Orders Show ‘Pattern’ of UAPA Being Abused

14/04/2024

The Quint / by Rohit Khannna

The SC recently granted bail to activist Shoma Sen, stating the allegations against her were prima facie not true.
On 5 April 2024, the Supreme Court granted bail to former Nagpur University professor and activist Shoma Sen, stating that the allegations against her – of indulging in terrorist activities or working for a terror group – were prima facie “not true”, and that no case was made out against her for offences under the extremely stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA.
Shoma Sen is among the 16 accused in the Elgar Parishad case, all of whom were arrested under the UAPA.
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Video: Elgar Parishad Case: Bail Orders Show ‘Pattern’ of UAPA Being Abused

By The Quint

en | 5:12min | 2024
Watch video


The Reichstag Fire & Prof Shoma Sen

14/04/2024

Newsclick / by Prabhat Patnaik

There’s a striking contrast between German judiciary stance during Hitler’s time and Indian judiciary’s on the executive’s trampling upon the Constitution.
… Professor Shoma Sen of Nagpur University was granted bail on Friday, April 5, by the Supreme Court, after she had spent six years in jail as an accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case. While granting her bail, the Supreme Court said in no uncertain terms that there was no prima facie case of her being associated with any acts of terrorism or being linked to any terrorist organisation. And yet she had to spend six years of her life in jail, which raises two fundamental questions: first, shouldn’t the government be held responsible, and hence be penalised in some way, for her extremely long incarceration without any trial, and that too on non-existent grounds according to the Supreme Court itself?
And, second, what were the various courts doing all these six years, letting her languish in jail, when they were duty-bound under the Constitution to protect her fundamental rights?
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You spent 10 years in jail for nothing. Who should pay for it?

12/04/2024

Times of India / by Sunil Baghel

What connects three professors — from Delhi, Kolhapur and Nagpur — to 17 residents of a village in Madhya Pradesh? All of them spent time in jail as undertrials or convicts before they were either acquitted or granted bail due to lack of evidence, with the courts questioning the cases against them.
… Under the stringent UAPA — where getting bail is even harder than other criminal cases — more than 24,000 people were accused in 5,027 cases registered between 2016 and 2020.
The data revealed in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha showed that just 212 people had been convicted in these cases, and 386 were acquitted. As per the data, nearly 98% of those arrested under the law had been imprisoned for multiple years just awaiting trial or to get bail.
Read more


Also read:
Explained: The Shoma Sen bail judgment (The Leaflet / April 2024)
Can Father Stan Swamy’s PIL be the blueprint for justice to thousands of undertrials lodged under UAPA? (The Leaflet / Aug 2023)
▪ Report: UAPA – CRIMINALISING DISSENT AND STATE TERROR (PUCL / Sep 2022)

Download report
Punished without trial: How India’s political prisoners are being denied basic rights in jail (Scroll.in / Aug 2022)
A study of Undertrials in Jharkhand (Sanhati / by Bagaicha Research Team / Feb 2016)

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)

Rediff.com / 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’ (Rediff.com / Apr 2024)
And he waits for Shoma Sen (Midday.com / May 2022)
Part 1: ‘It is very difficult to see my mother like this’ (Rediff.com / May 2022)
Part 2: When Your Mother Is In Prison… (Rediff.com / May 2022)

Stay on bail for long period affects personal liberty and rights, feel experts / Status of the accused in BK case

Stay on bail for long period affects personal liberty and rights, feel experts / Status of the accused in BK case

Poster by #bakeryprasad

Stay on bail for long period affects personal liberty and rights, feel experts

09/04/2024

The Indian Express / by Sadaf Modak

Elgaar Parishad case accused Mahesh Raut and Gautam Navlakha remain in jail for over four months since grant of bail by the Bombay High Court.
The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to activist and Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, arrested six years ago in the Elgaar Parishad case. Two of her co-accused Mahesh Raut and Gautam Navlakha who were granted bail six and four months ago, respectively, by the Bombay High Court, continue to remain in jail awaiting their bail hearings in the SC which has stayed their release till it hears appeals against their bail.
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By @apeksha_9 (April 5):
Revolutionary Salutes to Prof. Shoma Sen! Free All the Activists wrongfully incarcerated in the Bhima Koregaon case. Repeal UAPA.

As Shoma Sen gets bail, what is the status of other accused in Elgaar Parishad case?

05/04/2024

The Indian Express / by Sadaf Modak, Omkar Gokhale

Eight accused, including prominent activists, lawyers, and academics, have now been given bail. Two of them are yet to be released from custody. The case dates back to the beginning of 2018, but the trial is yet to commence
… Among the 16 individuals arrested in the case, one – Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old-priest and tribal rights activist based in Jharkhand – passed away in custody in July 2021.
Before Sen, seven other accused have been given bail. Two of these eight accused, however, are yet to be released from custody because the NIA has appealed the High Court’s bail orders in the SC.
Read more


Thread by BehanBox / @BehanBox (Apr 5):

(1/5) Today the Supreme Court granted bail to women’s rights activist #ShomaSen, accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in the #BhimaKoregaon violence case. #bhimakoregaon

(5/5) 8 of the activists, namely Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson and Hany Babu, continue to languish in prison without trial.


Bhima Koregaon: The process continues to clot as punishment as another year passes by

01/01/2024

The Leaflet / Arif Ayaz Parrey, Sarah Thanawala

Many of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad case have now spent one more year incarcerated without a trial. A far cry from the verbiage of high judicial officials that even a day’s denial of liberty is too much.
… Here is a recap of the major developments in the case this year, of bail applications granted, stayed and pending; the consistent pleas for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to comply with the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973; and the courts heeding to medical conditions-related pleas of the accused.
Read more


Also read:
‘Ominous portents’: Why High Court staying its own bail orders in Bhima Koregaon case is troubling (Scroll.in / Dec 2023)

If you asked for house arrest, you have to pay security costs: Supreme Court to Gautam Navlakha

If you asked for house arrest, you have to pay security costs: Supreme Court to Gautam Navlakha

Gautam Navlakha

‘You asked for house arrest, must pay for it’, SC tells Bhima Koregaon accused Gautam Navlakha

09/04/2024

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

The National Investigation Agency had earlier told the Supreme Court that the human rights activist is liable to pay Rs 1.64 crore for the cost of his security.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday told human rights activist Gautam Navlakha that he would have to pay the costs incurred by the National Investigation Agency towards his house arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case, reported Live Law.
Read more


If You Have Sought For House Arrest, You Must Pay The Expenses: Supreme Court Tells Bhima Koregaon Case Accused Gautam Navlakha

09/04/2024

Live Law / by Gyanvi Khanna

Today, the Supreme Court (on April 09) orally told Bhima Koregaon-accused Gautam Navlakha’s Advocate, Shadan Farasat, that if house arrest was sought, the surveillance expenses incurred by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) must be paid. However, Farasat submitted that paying the expenses was of no difficulty and that the issue is about calculating such expenses. He added that he would take the latest calculation from the Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the NIA, and will address it.
Read more


If you asked for house arrest, you have to pay security costs: Supreme Court to Gautam Navlakha

09/04/2024

Bar & Bench / by Abhimanyu Hazarika

The NIA told the Court that Navlakha owed the agency about ₹1.64 crore in security costs.
… The Court was hearing NIA’s appeal against the Bombay High Court order that granted bail to Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon riot case of 2018.
The activist’s plea concerning the terms of his house arrest is being heard along with the bail matter.
Read more


Also read:
NIA asks Gautam Navlakha to pay Rs 1.64 crore towards the cost of his house arrest (Scroll.in / March 2024)
‘Ominous portents’: Why High Court staying its own bail orders in Bhima Koregaon case is troubling (Scroll.in / Dec 2023)
Bombay High Court grants, stays bail to Gautam Navlakha (The Leaflet / Dec 2023)

PUDR: Uphold Shoma Sen’s Bail Order – Release all Bhima Koregaon detainees!

PUDR: Uphold Shoma Sen’s Bail Order – Release all Bhima Koregaon detainees!

PUDR poster campaign, 2023.

pudr.org / by PUDR

PUDR expresses relief at the Supreme Court’s granting of bail to Prof. Shoma Sen on April 5, after nearly six long years of pre-trial incarceration. Charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the infamous Bhima Koregaon (BK) conspiracy case, Shoma Sen is the fourth accused to be released on ‘bail on merits’ by the Supreme Court, after Anand Teltumbde, Vernon Gonsalves, and Arun Ferreira.
Read full statement


Also read:
PUDR welcomes the release on bail of Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira today, but protests onerous bail conditions (PUDR / Aug 2023)
Five years behind bars for five activists – Without bail, without charges being framed, without justice! (PUDR / June 2023)
Stop Denying Political Prisoners the Right to Healthcare in Jails (PUDR / Sep 2022)

Shoma Sen should have been released in 2018 / Explained: The Shoma Sen bail judgment

Shoma Sen should have been released in 2018 / Explained: The Shoma Sen bail judgment

Shoma Sen

Explained: The Shoma Sen bail judgment [read judgement]

08/04/2024

The Leaflet / by The Leaflet

The arguments, counter-arguments, and the many, many injustices and tethers of the judgment of the Supreme Court granting bail to former Nagpur University and women’s rights activist Shoma Sen, who spent six years in jail without a trial.
Read more
Read judgement


‘Shoma Sen should have been released in October 2018’

09/04/2024

Rediff.com / by Jyoti Punwani

‘Shoma didn’t have the luxury of time. She was already suffering from so many ailments.’
Professor Shoma Sen, among the first to be arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, got bail on April 5, after spending almost 6 six years in jail. Advocate Susan Abraham explains to Jyoti Punwani why the Nagpur professor should have been out more than 5 years ago.

The question everyone’s asking is: If the Supreme Court has found no prima facie evidence against Shoma Sen, why did it take so long for her to get bail?
Read more

BREAKING: Supreme Court grants bail to Shoma Sen / SC sets strict bail conditions

BREAKING: Supreme Court grants bail to Shoma Sen / SC sets strict bail conditions

No Ground To Believe Accusations Against Shoma Sen Are Prima Facie True: Supreme Court [read judgment]

05/04/2024

Live Law / by Gyanvi Khanna

The Court observed that the materials collected by the NIA only reveal her attempt to encourage women to join the struggle for a “new democratic revolution” and showed no attempt to commit any “terrorist act”.
While granting bail to Shoma Sen, nearly six years after her arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case, the Supreme Court on Friday (April 5) raised prima facie doubts over the tenability of the allegations against her regarding the commission of offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 (UAPA).
Read more
Read/ download the judgment

BREAKING | Supreme Court Grants Bail To Shoma Sen In Bhima Koregaon Case

05/04/2024

Live Law / by Gyanvi Khanna

The Supreme Court (on April 05) granted bail to former Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen who is booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 (UAPA) for alleged Maoist links in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.
She was arrested on June 6, 2018, and has been under custody since then, awaiting trial.
Read more

Thread by Live Law / @LiveLawIndia (Apr 5):
The bail conditions that will be imposed by the Special Court will be inclusive of the following conditions:

1. Sen shall not leave the State of Maharashtra;
2. She will surrender her passport, if she possesses one with the Special Court, during her bail period;
3. She is also required to inform her residential address to the officer of the NIA;
4. She is allowed to use only one mobile number during her bail, and the same shall be informed the officer of the NIA;
5. She shall also ensure that her mobile remains active and charged around the clock;
6. During the bail period, she shall have the GPS of her mobile phone active throughout the day, and her phone will be paired with the investigating officer of the NIA;
7. She will report to the station house officer, within whose jurisdiction she will reside, once every fortnight.

In the event there is any breach of such condition or any other condition imposed by the Special Court independently, it will be open for the prosecution to seek cancellation of bail granted to Sen before the Special Court only with any reference to this (Supreme Court)


Share Gps live location with nia 24×7: Supreme Court bail conditions for Shoma Sen [read judgment]

06/04/2024

Bar & Bench / by Debayan Roy

Pertinently, another bench of the Supreme Court itself had previously raised doubts with regard to bail condition asking accused to share their real time location with the prosecuting agencies.
The Supreme Court while granting bail to the Dalit and women’s rights activist Shoma Sen in the Bhima Koregaon violence case imposed a unique set of conditions to enable access of her real time location to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) [Shoma Kanti Sen vs State of Maharashtra and Anr].
Read more
Read judgment

Supreme Court grants bail to Shoma Sen in Bhima Koregaon case

05/04/2024

Bar & Bench / by Debayan Roy

The Court passed the order after noting that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) did not oppose her bail and hence, the stringent conditions for bail under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act would not apply.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Augustine George Masih passed the order after noting that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) did not oppose her bail and hence, the stringent conditions for bail under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) would not apply.
Read more


Allegations of terrorism against Bhima Koregaon accused Shoma Sen prima facie untrue: Supreme Court

06/04/2024

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

The bench remarked that no evidence had been placed before it to suggest that the former professor is a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The Supreme Court on Friday, while granting bail to former Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen in the Bhima Koregaon case, observed that the allegations of terrorism against her are prima facie untrue, reported Live Law.
Read more


Breaking | Supreme Court Grants Bail to Shoma Sen, in Jail for 6 Years

05/04/2024

The Wire / by The Wire Staff

An apex court bench took into account her prolonged incarceration, the delay in trial starting and the nature of the accusations.
The Supreme Court has granted bail to scholar and activist Shoma Sen who has been jailed for close to six years under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the Elgar Parishad case.
Sen is based in Nagpur and was arrested on June 6, 2018 by the Pune Police. She has been in custody since then. The National Investigation Agency took over the case in the meantime. It is yet to go to trial.
Read more


Also read:
After Opposing Bail for Years, NIA Now Says it Doesn’t Need Custody of Shoma Sen (The Wire / March 2024)
“Hopefully waiting” writes Shoma Sen from prison (InSAF India / Jul 2023)

Side-effects of conscience: An account of prison medical care

Side-effects of conscience: An account of prison medical care

Vernon Gonsalves at jail. Drawing by Arun Ferreira.

The Leaflet / by Vernon Gonsalves

Accused in the Bhima Koregaon case and released on bail by the Supreme Court last year after having spent five years in prison without a trial, Vernon Gonsalves narrates a sordid tale of pathetic medicare in Indian jails. 

I have spent almost eleven years in detention, with considerable periods in the most populated prisons of Maharashtra. My first incarceration from 2007 to 2013 began shortly after I turned fifty. I had a second stint from 2018 to 2023, while I was in my sixties.
Read more


Also read:
‘No Material’ to Demonstrate Terror Link, Yet Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferriera Spent 5 Years in Jail [Read judgment] (The Wire / Jul 2023)
Caged birds and prison songs: In chorus, Stan Swamy and the Bhima Koregaon accused kept hope alive (Scroll.in | by Vernon Gonsalves | Jul 2023)
Relatives of BK16 Flag Prison Authorities’ ‘Criminal Negligence’ and Deteriorating Health of Undertrials (Newsclick / Sep 2022)
Jailers’ apathy? Political prisoners’ right to life in India is ‘almost non-existent’ (Countercurrents / Sep 2022)
How the system broke Stan Swamy: A cell mate recalls the activist’s last days in prison (Scroll.in | by Arun Ferreira | Aug 2021)

Delhi Police files chargesheet in UAPA case against NewsClick founder Prabir Puryakayastha

Delhi Police files chargesheet in UAPA case against NewsClick founder Prabir Puryakayastha

NewsClick UAPA case: Delhi Police Special Cell files chargesheet against founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha, portal

30/03/2024

The Indian Express / by Nirbhay Thakur

Among allegations detailed by the Special Cell in its FIR against Prabir Purkayastha were attempts to show Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as “not parts of India”.
… The Special Cell had registered an FIR in this regard in August under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In November, the two were sent to a month’s judicial custody. The FIR also mentioned Purkayastha’s “friendship since 1991” with rights activist Gautam Navlakha who is under house arrest in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case.
Read more


Delhi Police files chargesheet in UAPA case against NewsClick founder Prabir Puryakayastha

30/03/2024

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

Purkayastha and PPK NewsClick Studio were named as accused parties for allegedly taking Chinese funds to ‘undermine India’s sovereignty, territorial integrity’.
The Delhi Police Special Cell on Saturday filed an 8,000-page chargesheet in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act case against NewsClick founder and editor Prabir Puryakayastha, who has been in judicial custody since November.
Read more


Newsclick Rejects Allegations Published in Media; Latest Claims No Different

Newsclick.in | Newsclick Team | March 29, 2024
Statement on allegations published in the media about the case under UAPA being investigated by the Special Cell of Delhi Police.
Read full statement


Also read:
‘NewsClick’ case: Gautam Navlakha questioned by Delhi Police (Scroll.in / Dec 2023)
This Is the Biggest Crackdown on the Indian Press by the Indian State (The Wire / Oct 2023)

Top Global Academics Flay Recent Pattern in India of Jailing Critics Without Trial

Top Global Academics Flay Recent Pattern in India of Jailing Critics Without Trial

Campaign poster, 2020

The Wire / by The Wire Staff

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has voiced his support for the statement – among whose authors is Amitav Ghosh – saying such imprisonment without trial was “certainly among the worst injustices that the country has made into a regular arrangement”.
Sixteen prominent academics released a statement expressing concern over the prolonged detention without trial of writers, journalists and activists who were critical of the Union government.
Read more / read the full text of the two statements