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Is India Really a Democracy? The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowing in the Wind: Nayantara Sahgal

Is India Really a Democracy? The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowing in the Wind: Nayantara Sahgal

The Wire / by Nayantara Sahgal

The author’s lament about the attacks on individual rights and freedoms in present-day India.
… Recently I heard that the government wants a strong opposition. But when members of the opposition such as the Elgar Parishad prisoners, to name one case, are in jail for criticising some official measure or not falling in line with the ruling ideology, is this the way that a democracy treats dissent?
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Protest for release of activists

Protest for release of activists

Left groups protest across Punjab, seek to revive spirit of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom

17/04/2022

Counterview / by Harsh Thakor

Despite political change of guards, which brought Aam Aadmi Party to power, recent events suggest that Left-wing forces of different shades appear to be steadily gaining ground in Punjab.
… Held on April 8 in Singrur on the very day Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru flung a bomb in the parliament house to symbolise liberation from colonial slavery, the Kirti Kisan Union, Punjab Students Union, Naujwan Bharat Sabha and Zameen Prapti Sangharsh demanded unconditional release of political prisoners. Speakers summarised how activists like Gautam Navlakha , GN Saibaba, Rona Wilson, Anand Teltumbde, Varavara Rao, Umar Khalid, Sudha Bharadwaj, Devinder Ghullar etc. were branded for waging a conspiracy against the state as they were posing a question to the autocratic character of the rulers or confronting fascism.
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Protest for release of activists

09/04/2022

Times of India / by TNN

The farmer and student organisations protested in Faridkot on Friday for the release of those who have completed their sentences and of activists who have been arrested on flimsy grounds. Activists of Kirti Kisan Union, Naujwan Bharat Sabha and Punjab Students Union raised slogans for the release of Prof GN Saibaba, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Umar Khalid, Devinderpal Singh Bhullar and others.
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Left leaders protest, seek release of political prisoners

08/04/2022

Tribune of India / by Tribune News Service

Members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) New Democracy on Friday held a protest against the non-release of Sikh prisoners who had completed their sentences and imprisonment of political prisoners, intellectuals, writers, journalists and activists in false cases.
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Rona Wilson’s iPhone Infected With Pegasus Spyware, Says New Forensic Report

Rona Wilson’s iPhone Infected With Pegasus Spyware, Says New Forensic Report

Rona Wilson’s iPhone Infected With Pegasus Spyware, Says New Forensic Report

17/12/2021

The Wire / by Sukanya Shantha

Arsenal Consulting was engaged by Wilson’s defence lawyers to study the electronic evidence submitted against him in the Elgar Parishad case.
Rona Wilson, a prisoners’ rights activist and academic based in Delhi, was a victim of both surveillance and incriminating document delivery for close to a year before his arrest on June 6, 2018, according to a new digital forensics report.
Wilson, originally from Kerala and who continued with his social activism work in Delhi, was one of the first persons to be arrested in the Elgar Parishad case.
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Phone of Indian activist jailed on terrorism charges was infected with Pegasus spyware, new analysis finds

17/12/2021

The Washington Post / by Niha Masih

A smartphone belonging to jailed Indian activist Rona Wilson was infiltrated using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware before his arrest, according to a new forensic analysis by Amnesty International’s Security Lab that reignites questions about the use of malware attacks against dissidents and government critics in India.
The analysis by Amnesty showed that two backups of an iPhone 6s belonging to Wilson, who has been in jail on terrorism charges since June 2018, had digital traces showing infection by the Pegasus surveillance tool, which its developer, the Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO Group, has said has been licensed only to government agencies.
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Pegasus spyware ‘found on phone of jailed critic of Narendra Modi’

17/12/2021

The Guardian / by Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Michael Safi

Analysis of Rona Wilson’s phone found evidence it was infected with NSO Group spyware three months before arrest
The Indian government’s case against Rona Wilson, a jailed Indian activist and critic of Narendra Modi’s administration, is expected to face new scrutiny following allegations that his mobile phone was hacked using Israeli-made spyware just months before his controversial arrest.
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Also read:
Leaked Data Shows Surveillance Net in Elgar Parishad Case May Have Crossed a Line (The Wire / July 2021)
They were accused of plotting to overthrow the Modi government. The evidence was planted, a new report says (Washington Post / Feb 2021)
Prison-rights activist Rona Wilson’s hard disk contained malware that allowed remote access (The Caravan / March 2020)

Political prisoners part of broader dissent against state excesses / The Future of Social Activism

Political prisoners part of broader dissent against state excesses / The Future of Social Activism


Poster, July 2020

Political prisoners part of broader dissent against state excesses

27/07/2021

The Leaflet / by Achintya Anita Gurumurthy

It has been over 500 days since Khalid Saifi’s incarceration and 300 for Umar Khalid in the northeast Delhi riots cases and almost three weeks since the custodial demise of Father Stan Swamy in the Bhima-Koregaon case – all arrested under the dreaded Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA) 1967. The arrests have put the spotlight back on the category of ‘political prisoners’, who are imprisoned for opposing the government via their actions or beliefs.
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State and the Future of Social Activism

27/07/2021

EPW / by Gopal Guru

The death of Father Stan Swamy and several others as the tragic outcome of the arrest and detention without fair trial brings into critical focus the approach that the state has been adopting towards understanding social activism. In the ethics of democratic practice and constitutional morality, such an official approach would be evaluated as indiscrete, if not arbitrary, in comprehending the nature of social activism.
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Rally for jailed Indian scholars held in Surrey, Canada

Rally for jailed Indian scholars held in Surrey, Canada


Surrey, June 27

Countercurrents.org / by Countercurrents

Close to the birthday of George Orwell and the 46th anniversary of Emergency in the world’s so called largest democracy, activists came together in Surrey on Sunday, June 27, to raise their voices against the incarceration of thinkers by the Indian authorities.
Organized by Radical Desi publications, the rally was held right outside the Indian Visa and Passport Application Center. The participants carried placards with pictures of jailed scholars who are being detained under trumped up charges for merely questioning the power and standing up for the poor and marginalized.
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Crushing Dissent During India’s Lockdown

Crushing Dissent During India’s Lockdown

Towards Freedom / by Rishabh Jain

“The very thought of him having to plead to jail authorities regarding a basic service like clean water to wash his swelled eye still gives me anxiety attacks,” says Jenny Rowena, wife of Hany Babu.
Babu, a 55-year-old Delhi University professor, is among many political prisoners who have been detained after having been charged under a draconian Indian law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
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Also read/watch: Repeal UAPA – Persecution by Prosecution. Three Day consultation by PUCL in January 2021

Telangana govt bans Revolutionary Writers Association, 15 other orgs

Telangana govt bans Revolutionary Writers Association, 15 other orgs

Siasat / by Yunus Y Lasania

The Telangana government on Friday banned 16 organisations, including the Revolutionary Writers Association, known as Virasam, claiming that these are frontal bodies of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and are engaged in “tactics” that “wage war against the state”. The order was passed by chief secretary Somesh Kumar, with effect from March 30 this year.
… The Government Order also clearly states that the organisations are also being banned for demanding the release of Prof. GN Sai Baba, Rona Wilson, and writer Vara Vara Rao (who is from Virasam), who are all currently in prison with regard to the Elgar Parishad case, on allegations of conspiring to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
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Also read: Andhra govt, Centre ‘collude’ to repeat Bhima Koregaon type case against rights activists (Counterview, April 2021)

Guilty by association – A profile of Hany Babu

Guilty by association – A profile of Hany Babu

Solidarity poster, Aug 28, 2020

The Polis Project / by The Polis Project and maraa

… Hany Babu Musaliyarveettil Tharayil, 54, is an associate professor of Linguistics in Delhi University (DU). He is also a linguist, an anti-caste scholar, and a social activist. His work as an activist has been largely related to the pro-reservation movement in Indian universities. He is the coordinator of the Alliance of Social Justice, a member of the Joint Action Front for Democratic Education and, until his arrest, he was leading the Defense Committee for GN Saibaba, a professor convicted for alleged links with the Maoist movement.
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Gadling in jail. Reason? As lawyer-activist he has been ‘unpleasant’ to India’s topcops

Gadling in jail. Reason? As lawyer-activist he has been ‘unpleasant’ to India’s topcops

Counterview / by Nilkantha Mandal, Sandeep Pandey, Kushagra Kumar

Surendra Gadling, now in jail in the Bhima-Koregoan violence case, is a human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist based in Nagpur. He is known for taking up cases of extra-judicial killings, police excesses and atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis in Gadchiroli and Gondia districts of Maharashtra.
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The cost of voicing dissent: UAPA against G.N. Saibaba, Gautam Navlakha, Father Stan Swamy and others

26/12/2020

Countercurrents / by Kunal Pant

In 2016, a Supreme Court Judge asked the state of Maharashtra, “Do you want to extract a pound of flesh?” The statement was directed against the state for contesting the bail plea of Delhi University Professor G. N. Saibaba. Saibaba was arrested in 2014, a justification for which was to prevent him from committing what the police called “anti-national activities.”
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India’s 21st-century dungeons – Government is tardy with revealing jail data

India’s 21st-century dungeons – Government is tardy with revealing jail data

UCA News / by John Dayal

A little plastic hollow straw, much like the one you’d get with fresh tender coconut or cold drink at a roadside eatery, has gained much attention not just on the vagaries of the law of the land and its courts, but even more on the conditions in the prisons in India.
It took several weeks for 84-year-old Jesuit Father Stan Swamy–in prison as a mere suspect in a trumped-up conspiracy called the Bhima-Koregaon case–to get the plastic drinking straw, which he needs to take a sip of water or tea because his Parkinson’s disease afflicted hands can bare hold the cup. He is not yet an undertrial, and certainly not a convict.
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