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Video: Sudha Bharadwaj on activism, her time in jail & why Chhattisgarh will always be home

Video: Sudha Bharadwaj on activism, her time in jail & why Chhattisgarh will always be home


en | 13:32min | 2022

Newslaundry / by Manisha Pande; NL Interview

The trade unionist and lawyer sits down with Manisha Pande in Mumbai.
Sudha Bharadwaj loves mathematics, wonders whether she gave her daughter the “right” kind of childhood, and became a lawyer when she was 40 years old.
“Had I not become a lawyer,” she says, “I don’t think I would have been very easily accepted as a leader.”
Sudha was released from Mumbai’s Byculla Jail in December last year after spending three years in prison. She was arrested in connection with the #BhimaKoregaon violence and was repeatedly denied bail until December 1. She was also dubber an ‘urban naxal’ by TV channels that made little attempt to understand her work. Sudha says she now wants to go to her real home, to Chhattisgarh, where she’s lived since the 1980s.
In this interview, she talks about her childhood in Bilaspur and her educational journey, culminating in IIT Kanpur. Her mother, a #JNU professor, helped shape the ideology of this self-proclaimed #Marxist – though she confesses her mother had many “apprehensions” – who began working with trade unions at the age of 25.
Working with people on the ground, Sudha is only too aware of how “alien” the judicial process is to the majority of India’s population. “The notification comes out in the gazette. You are somewhere, miles away in a village which is not even accessible, and nobody even tells you about it,” she says. She also thinks it’s important for young lawyers to cut their teeth by representing the most marginalised.
In Byculla jail, where she remembers she once saw #RheaChakraborty, Sudha continued her work, trying to secure legal aid for those imprisoned with her. She believes in the importance of a “united front” – the farm law protests are an example, with people holding differing ideologies coming together – and worries that the lack of this unity gives rise to dogma.
Watch 13 min video clip here

by newslaundry (Oct 21, 2022):
‘He was never an opportunist in his politics.’ @Sudhabharadwaj talks about labour law leader and founder of the #Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha Shankar Guha Niyogi and the actual movement that led to his assassination.
Watch video clip (3:46min)

by newslaundry (Oct 20, 2022):
In conversation with @MnshaP @Sudhabharadwaj details the #Sarkeguda encounter case in #Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district in which unarmed villagers including minors were killed, and the legal battle that ensued.
Watch video clip (4:30min)

by newslaundry (Oct 19, 2022):
‘So much money goes to defend the state.’ Speaking with @MnshaP, @Sudhabharadwaj
talks about legal aid in India and how there is no level playing field for citizens.
Watch video clip (2:34min)

Watch the full interview (for subscribers only) here

Interview: Sudha Bharadwaj on the Climate, Trade Unions and a Just Transition

Interview: Sudha Bharadwaj on the Climate, Trade Unions and a Just Transition

The Wire Science / by Nagraj Adve

Nagraj Adve spoke with trade unionist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj for The Wire Science.

While in Yerawada jail, you began to translate Naomi Klein’s book on global warming, This Changes Everything, into Hindi. What made you do it? And what were the challenges, in terms of doing it while in jail and in the translation?

I had always been concerned about ecological devastation in Chhattisgarh due to the limestone quarries and cement plants, vast coal mines, power plants and their ash dykes, sponge iron plants spewing black dust, and the rivers running red with iron ore – things that, as a trade unionist and later as a lawyer representing landowners fighting land acquisition, I had observed at close quarters. But I was always caught up with the battles of the present moment – the notices, the court cases, the jobs, the environmental hearings.
Read more


by Naomi Klein (Jul 29, 2022)
Little in my writing life has moved me as much as trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj’s account of translating “This Changes Everything” into Hindi when she was in jail under horrific conditions as a prisoner of conscience.

Jailed Or Punished, With Or Without Trial: How The State Misuses The Law Against India’s Inconvenient Citizens

Jailed Or Punished, With Or Without Trial: How The State Misuses The Law Against India’s Inconvenient Citizens

Article14 / by Mani Chander

The arrests and continued incarceration of fact-checker Mohammad Zubair, political activist Javed Mohammed and the exoneration of 121 Adivasis accused of terrorism are the latest evidence of how the State adopts extra legal methods of dealing with ‘inconvenient citizens’- including journalists, dissidents, activists or the poorest Indians – to push official narratives of conspiracy and terrorism. The common threads: manipulation or egregious misinterpretation of laws, changing accusations, unknown or untraceable complainants and the abandonment of due process by police and courts.
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And Vernon’s letters to his son

And Vernon’s letters to his son

Midday.com / by Ajaz Ashraf

Of the 27 years of his son’s life, Vernon Gonsalves has been in jail for 10. Then how did they communicate? Through letters, comic strip cut outs from newspapers, birthday cards and the occasional prison visits.
Sagar worked for six years in the NGO sector before he flew last year to London to do a Master’s at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Twenty-seven now, he is busy writing his dissertation on sedition under British colonial rule.
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Also read:
And comrades admire Jyoti Jagtap (Midday.com / July 2022)
And the letters of Rona Wilson (Midday.com / June 2022)
And Allah’s call to Hany Babu (Midday.com / June 2022)
And Ma can’t sing with Sagar (Midday.com / June 2022)
And he waits for Shoma Sen (Midday.com / May 2022)
And she waits for Gautam Navlakha (Midday.com / May 2022)

And he waits for Shoma Sen

And he waits for Shoma Sen

Midday / by Ajaz Ashraf

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


Also read:
And she waits for Gautam Navlakha (Midday / May 2022)

The condition of the industrial working class in the 75th year of independence

The condition of the industrial working class in the 75th year of independence


Poster by ReleaseSudhaBharadwaj.net

The Leaflet / by Sudha Bharadwaj

The Indian working class was a proud participant in the anti-imperialist struggle against British rule in India. Whether it was the six-day strike of the working class of Mumbai in 1908 – one day for each year of the sentence of Bal Gangadhar Tilak; the attempts of the Ghadar Party organised by Punjabi immigrant workers in Canada, who sailed to India in 1914 to overthrow the British; the four-day old Solapur Commune of 1930, when the workers took over the city …
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Also read/listen to:
Podcast: Interview with Sudha Bharadwaj, Bhima Koregaon Accused and Human Rights Lawyer (30:48min | Scroll.in | Feb 2022)
If You Try to Be Safe and in the Middle, You Will Never Succeed: Sudha Bharadwaj. Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, the organisation Sudha Bharadwaj has worked with for decades, built a unique model of trade unionism combining class struggle with welfarism. (The Wire | Nov 1, 2021)

Video: In Conversation with Sudha Bharadwaj – The Conditions of Prisoners in Indian Jails

Video: In Conversation with Sudha Bharadwaj – The Conditions of Prisoners in Indian Jails

By All India Lawyers’ Association for Justice – AILAJ

The huge number of undertrials, the overcrowding, and the disproportional numbers of Dalit, Muslim and Adivasi prisoners are part of the prison problem in India.
We are joined by Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj for a discussion on the Conditions of Prisoners in Indian Jails.

en | 1:21:23 | 2022
Watch video

Exposing the machinations of authoritarian power: A profile of Vernon Gonsalves

Exposing the machinations of authoritarian power: A profile of Vernon Gonsalves

By The Polis Project

Profiles of Dissent is a series centered on remarkable voices of dissent and courage across the world. They are writers, poets, activists, human rights defenders and those who have been incarcerated for speaking truth to power.
Vernon Gonsalves is a human rights activist, writer and former professor in several colleges in Mumbai. As an advocate of the rights of marginalized communities, he is a vocal critic of India’s criminal justice system and of the State establishment. In 2007, he was imprisoned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Arms Act, but he was released in 2013 after most of the charges made against him were disproved in Court. 
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My Spirit has not Been Broken: Activist Sudha Bharadwaj

My Spirit has not Been Broken: Activist Sudha Bharadwaj

NewsClick / by Ajaz Ashraf

When I turned 21, I was free to choose whether I wanted to be Indian or American. I chose to be Indian, basically, because I was already involved in social issues by then. At no point I wished I was in the United States.
This is the second part of the interview with Sudha Bharadwaj, who was arrested on 28 October 2018 for her alleged role in fomenting the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence. In this interview, she speaks on her privileged class background, why she gave up her American citizenship, what made her shift to Chhattisgarh, where she worked among industrial workers to better their lives, about how she spent time in jail, and her anxiety of being separated from her daughter. Bharadwaj discusses how she hopes to adjust to a life of limited freedom.
Read more


Also Read
● Part 1: Patriotism of Social Activists is Increasingly being Punished: Activist Sudha Bharadwaj (Newsclick / Jan 2022)