Skip to main content

Bhima Koregaon: Hindutva 'conspiracy' to keep activists in jail without trial, delay bail

Release Sudha Bharadwaj protest in Chhattisgarh 
Counterview Desk
India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), expressing “solidarity against state repression of activists, lawyers and progressive persons”, has demanded that all political prisoners, including Sudha Bharadwaj, who has been imprisoned for two, years should be released forthwith.
Seeking the arrest of “real criminals” of the Bhima Koregaon case -- Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide who are the “leading perpetrators of Hindutva violence against Dalits at Bhima Koregaon -- and repeal of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), NAPM, said, the real aim is “to suppress every voice that is challenging this corporate-Hindutva government.”

Text:

In India's dark history of human rights violations, August 28, 2018 has become a very important day. On this day, Sudha Bharadwaj was arrested by Pune police from her home in Faridabad. On the same day, Gautam Navlakha from Delhi, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves from Mumbai and Varavara Rao from Hyderabad were also arrested.
Although Gautam Navlakha was granted relief from arrest for a while by the Delhi High Court, he was also arrested a few months ago. In the 'Bhima Koregaon case', baseless and false facts have been used to fabricate a criminal case.
These arrests are a shameful attempt to divert attention from the criminal acts of Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, who are the leading perpetrators of Hindutva violence against Dalits in Bhima Koregaon, and to suppress the voices of social activists, critical of the government.
A total of 12 well-known social activists have been arrested so far in this case. Besides those mentioned above, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Hany Babu have also been incarcerated. All of them have been falsely accused of 'inciting violence' in Bhima Koregaon (a city near Pune) on January 1, 2018.
Notably, this day was marked as the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon war. In this war in 1818, Dalits had defeated the Peshwas. This is an important day for the Dalit movement. Thousands of people gather in Bhima Koregaon on this day.
It is noteworthy that all those arrested not only believe in a progressive world-view but also live those ideals on a daily basis! It is sad that despite the blatantly visible state conspiracy against these poets, lawyers, teachers, social and human rights activists, working selflessly since decades, the Courts are neither quashing the charges against them not is it granting them bail.
Keeping many such elderly persons imprisoned in jail even during the Covid pandemic shows the cruelty of this fascist government! Apart from these 12 people, the NIA is harassing many more human rights activists and journalists under the pretext of 'investigation'!
Sudha Bharadwaj was working with the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha for around 35 years. She continuously raised the issues of Adivasis and workers. Realizing the need for lawyers, she completed her legal studies. She became a successful human rights lawyer who worked for the rights of thousands of families. 
Today, workers as well as members of the Adivasi community in Chhattisgarh's Bhilai and other factory areas greatly feel her absence. We, the people’s movements from across the country, stand with them in solidarity.
In today's environment of repression, we greatly feel the absence of Sudha Bharadwaj and everyone arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case. Keeping detainees in jail without trial for two years, intentionally delaying bail, dragging their health into serious crisis instead of starting a trial in the case, is also a gross violation of prisoners' rights. During a global pandemic, the crowded conditions in the jails have increased the threat to their health even more.
Today workers and adivasis of Chhattisgarh's Bhilai and other factory areas greatly feel Sudha Bharadwaj's absence
As we all witnessed recently, it was only after immense pressure from thousands of people around the world that the government admitted 80-year-old, sick Varavara Rao to a good hospital. Till then, his life was literally put at risk. 
Right now, it has been reported that according to the medical report of the jail, Sudha Bharadwaj is suffering from ischemic heart disease, which is caused by narrowing of arteries in the heart. This could mean there is a lack of blood flow to the heart muscles which can cause a heart attack. This is extremely worrying.
Rajasthan NGO protest against activists' two year detention  
According to her daughter Maaysha, Sudha Bhardwaj had no heart related complaint before being taken into custody on August 28, 2018. Although she has diabetes and blood pressure, and also had tuberculosis a few years ago, due to which she is at greater risk of infection from Covid than others.
Detainees in her barracks have been given only a mask to protect against corona virus infection. It is impossible to maintain adequate physical distance from each other in a crowded barrack. Byculla Jail has said that to maintain the physical distancing norms, the jail can hold a maximum of 175 inmates – despite this, as of July 28, there were 257 inmates in this jail.
The doctor and superintendent of this prison were found to be coronavirus positive. It is a matter of surprise that even after 11 hearing dates in two and a half months on Sudha's special bail petition, a decision has not been made yet.
The latest news is that Sudha Bharadwaj's bail application has been rejected again. Two medical reports from Byculla Jail were presented before a judge of the Mumbai High Court. The first described her health condition as serious and also mentioned her heart disease. Then another medical report was released 1-2 days ago, in which she was shown as being 'completely healthy'.
Sudha Bharadwaj's lawyer told the court that a heart disease is not cured by itself so soon. But the court refused to recognize the contradiction in the two reports and rejected bail on the basis of the second report. 
NAPM condemns the arrest and baseless allegations made against Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Dr Anand Teltumbde, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, and Hany Babu! We express solidarity with them and all political prisoners across the country who are being made victims of repressive laws like UAPA and 'sedition'. 
The hearing in the Bhima Koregaon has not started yet. All this is just an attempt to deflect the concerns and questions of poor, dalit, oppressed and exploited classes, adivasis, farmers and working classes, and a violation of the human rights of social workers, lawyers and human rights activists who bring those concerns to the national and international level.
It is a conspiracy to torment them and break their morale. Today, efforts are being made to suppress every voice that is challenging this corporate-Hindutva government. But it is important for the common people to expose these conspiracies of the government and stand firm on the issues of education, health, employment, peace and justice!
We demand that:
  • All political prisoners in the Bhima Koregaon case should be released. Especially given the threat of Covid-19, they should be given immediate bail.
  • Strict action should be taken against the leading perpetrators of the Bhima Koregaon violence, Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide. 
  • Jail authorities are appealed to reduce crowding in jails, conduct regular Covid testing of all prisoners and take all measures to protect against Covid in the jail. 
  • Repressive laws like UAPA and sedition should be repealed.

Comments

TRENDING

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".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Dalit Hindi professor intimidated, harassed by saffron brigade: 400 activists, academics

Counterview Desk  Over 400 academics and activists have expressed alarm at the Lucknow University ‘protests’ on May 10 against Dr Ravi Kant, associate professor of Hindi and a Dalit, stating it is nothing but “intimidation and abuse” over his remarks on the online channel Satya Hindi, which were taken out of context and made viral on social media. “We are even more concerned that such an incident should occur within the confines a university campus, where free speech and expression without fear must ideally be the norm. Violence and intimidation over differences of opinion should never occur in a university”, the statement regrets, asking the authorities at the university and the Uttar Pradesh government to assure him and his family “protection from further harassment or intimidation.” Text: We are a group of academics and activists deeply concerned by the public heckling and intimidation of Dr. Ravi Kant, Associate Professor of Hindi and well known Dalit scholar, on the premises of t

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as