Skip to main content

Bhima Koregaon: Demand to free all 'political' prisoners as Varavara Rao tests Covid positive

Counterview Desk
The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a network of several civil society, trade union, students and civil rights groups, has sought immediate release of veteran poet-activist Varavara Rao, who has tested Covid-19 positive. Also seeking release of all political prisoners, in a statement, CASR said, “Instead of making arrangements for immediate medical care and treatment, the Taloja Jail authorities denied him medical care.”
“Simultaneously”, CASR said, “The National Investigation Agency (NIA) worked overtime to block all efforts for the release of those incarcerated under the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case despite the heightened threat of a Covid-19 infection in cramped jails.” 
It added, The way those arrested are being treated “is a barbaric extension of the policy of branding voices of dissent as ‘urban-naxals’ and incarcerating them for long periods of time under fabricated charges facilitated by draconian laws.”

Text:

The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) demands the immediate release of the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao who has tested positive for Covid-19. As per information received by family members, Varavara Rao’s health has rapidly deteriorated over the last couple of weeks. This is also evidenced by his weakening physical state, incoherent speech and inability to independently perform daily or bodily functions.
After persistent efforts of family members in highlighting his health condition, the jail authorities, who had denied these concerns, were compelled to shift Varavara Rao to JJ Hospital in Mumbai on July 13. However, his health further worsened as hospital authorities failed to care for him. They even forcibly sent away his family for raising concerns about him being abandoned on a dirty and unsanitary stretcher. Today, he has tested positive for Covid-19 and has been shifted to Saint George Hospital, Mumbai.
The deliberate role played by the state in Varavara Rao’s failing health in many ways captures the impact of the State’s actions in the country-wide surge in Covid-19 cases. Instead of making arrangements for immediate medical care and treatment, the Taloja Jail authorities denied him medical care. Simultaneously, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) worked overtime to block all efforts for the release of those incarcerated under the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case despite the heightened threat of a Covid-19 infection in cramped jails.
To be noted is that several of the undertrials are persons above the age of 60, suffering from co-morbidities and hence particularly vulnerable to a Covid-19 infection. Besides Varavara Rao, these include Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha and Shoma Sen. What started as a witch-hunt of activists in 2018 by the Maharashtra Police has now become an attempt at custodial murder by the NIA, jail and hospital authorities.
This is a barbaric extension of the policy of branding voices of dissent as ‘urban-naxals’ and incarcerating them for long periods of time under fabricated charges facilitated by draconian laws. As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads faster and further into all parts of the country, the inhuman and over-crowded jails have been transformed into the gallows for those who the state seeks to silence.
What started as a witch-hunt of activists in 2018 by the Maharashtra Police has now become an attempt at custodial murder by the NIA, jail and hospital authorities
In furtherance of these actions, the NIA has summoned several more persons including Delhi University professor Hany Babu and Hyderabad based journalist Kranti Tekula to testify before them in Mumbai. That appeals for delay due to restrictions on travel and the imploding health crisis have been rejected reveals the base interests of this agency and its masters in the Ministry of Home Affairs. They intend to instil fear among the those daring to demand rights for the oppressed classes, castes and communities.
The case of Dr GN Saibaba, a 90% disabled wheelchair bound Delhi University professor, who continues to be incarcerated despite repeated appeals for parole is likely to develop similar to the case of Varavara Rao. 
Denial of reprieve to such persons render the courts complicit in the custodial murder of activists, intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, poets and trade unionists. It must be reiterated that several anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), National Population Register (NPR) activists arrested by the Delhi Police languish in jail despite appeals for their release.
This policy of denying political prisoners medical care again manifests in the continued incarceration of peasant leaders Akhil Gogoi and Manas Konwar along with others who have tested positive for COVID-19 while jailed in Assam. 
All these bail applications are being denied by invoking the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the NIA Act. The use of these draconian laws to incarcerate activists and deny bail despite the spread of COVID-19 within prisons is a blatant violation of the right to life of prisoners.
It is a truism that the BJP-led Central government and agencies like the NIA are using the Bhima Koregaon case as a tactic to suppress the voices that collectively oppose Brahmanical Hindutva fascism. At the same time, Hindutva forces accused of attacking Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and the progressive and democratic sections of our society are shielded and protected.
This makes it imperative for us to band together to resist the onslaught of Brahmanical Hindutva fascism, demand the release of all political prisoners and demand medical attention to all persons incarcerated in jails and prisons all over the country.
The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) urges all the progressive and democratic sections of our society to unite and draw upon the broad masses in collectively resisting the fascist forces and opposing state repression. Let us demand:
  • Immediate release of revolutionary poet Varavara Rao and Dr. GN Saibaba.
  • Immediate release of all activists and intellectuals who are charged in the fabricated Bhima Koregaon case 
  • Immediate release of all anti-CAA, NRC and NPR activists 
  • Immediate release of all political prisoners lodged in jails all over the country 
  • Repeal of all draconian laws including UAPA, PSA, NSA and others. 
---
*AISA, AISF, APCR, BCM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, BSCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, IAPL, IMK, Karnataka Janashakti, KYS, Lokpaksh, LSI, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, Mehnatkash Mahila Sangathan, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, NCHRO, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad, Satyashodak Sangh, SFI, United Against Hate, WSS

Comments

this is the New India we Live Now....tihar jail guys freed ... not the activists...whose cases not filed only on suspicion.whose trails have not happened....judgement is far....what is this? Do we need More Proof that we are under UNDECLARED EMERGENCY.

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Older than Delhi, no other school may have witnessed so many vicissitudes as this one

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*  Behind every book there is a writer or writers. Are the books written for the personal gratification of authors? Is the purpose utilitarian, educational or to gain public ovation? There are writers who publish books because they are inspired by a purely disinterested and fair-minded pursuit of knowledge and to clarify the issues that agitate them and society. The book under discussion   is a masterstroke on the life and times of not only an institution at Ajmeri Gate, Delhi — Anglo Arabic School — but about the complex relationship between the school and the cajoled Muslim community. Just while you are at Ajmeri Gate, supposedly, the border of Old and New Delhi, barely a few meters from the cacophony and the chaos outside the New Delhi railway station, lies an island of serenity — a school much older than New Delhi, with a wholesale machine tools market on its West, a road leading to Rajiv Chowk (Connaught Place) on the East and colourful confusion of rickshaws,