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Adv Surendra Gadling will be 50 on July 30, at Yerwada Prison, send him greetings #DefendDissent

*Advocate Surendra Gadling, the Human Rights People’s Lawyer will be turning 50 on 30th July 2018.*
Due to the political prejudice of the Maharashtra police he will be in Yerwada Prison incarcerated in an FIR related to the Bhima Koregaon events, whereas the real perpetrators of the violence ie Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote are free.
Let us, individually or collectively (or as organisation’s/associations) send cards, letters and Birthday greetings to Adv Surendra Gadling as a show of solidarity.
His address is:
*Advocate Surendra Gadling*
*UTP 7361, Yerwada jail. Pune 411 006*

Gadling, who is Dalit, was arrested on June 6 from his home in Nagpur as part of a broad country-wide sweep

The Pune (Maharashtra) police on , April 17, 2018 at around 6.00 a.m. conducted simultaneous searches at homes of prominent activists in Maharashtra namely Sudhir Dhavale (Dalit activist, Republican Panthers), Harshali Potdar (Woman activist, Republican Panthers), Ramesh Gaychor, Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe, Rupali Jadhav and Dhawala Dhengle (all Kabir Kala Manch activists) in relation to the violence that ensued on the day of bi-centenary celebrations of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon on January 31, 2018 and the subsequent bandh.

The Pune police also conducted a search at the Nagpur home and office of Surendra Gadling, a People’s Lawyer practicing there.  His computer Hard disk, DVDs and other e-storage devices were seized by the police. Surendra Gadling is the General Secretary of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) and has been an active member since its formation in 2004. He has, since the last three decades, been litigating cases of those marginalized in the Indian judicial system, especially Dalits, tribals and workers from various backgrounds. He played a significant role in defending those incarcerated in draconian laws of TADA, POTA and UA(P)A including that of Sudhir Dhavale, Prof. G.N. Saibaba and also in defending rights of tribals arrested by the police under fabricated FIRs. Adv. Gadling has also fought for the rights of dalits in numerous atrocities such as the Khairlanji massacre. He himself has been resisting the anti-people stance of the state as a Human Rights activist and People’s Lawyer and due to this popularity, has even contested Bar Council elections for Maharashtra and Goa.


Surendra Gadling began his career, almost two decades ago in Nagpur, fighting cases for those arrested under the draconian Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1985, or TADA, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

He also worked as a special public prosecutor on dowry-related cases and was one of the leading lawyers in connection with the Khairlanji agitation – a protest movement launched after the gruesome caste-murders of a Dalit family in Maharashtra.

He is also a lawyer for Prof. G.N. Saibaba, a wheel-chair bound Delhi University professor sentenced to life imprisonment, by a district court in Gadchiroli, for aiding the Maoists. Prof. Saibaba is appealing the verdict.

“There is a clear pattern here that stretches all the way back to the encounter killing of Ishrat Jehan.”

The police’s attempt to link Gadling to a plot to assassinate Modi, writer and political analyst Anand Teltumbde said, was a ploy to misrepresent the Dalit mobilization against the BJP as a Maoist plot, and latest iteration to an oft-repeated claim, by Modi, that his life was under threat.

‘There is a clear pattern here that stretches all the way back to the encounter killing of Ishrat Jehan,” said Teltumbde said, who has written a book on Khairlanji. “This drama has been enacted before.”

Jehan was killed by the Gujarat police in 2004, while she was ostensibly on a mission to assassinate Modi while he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. Subsequent investigations cast a long shadow of doubt on this claim, indicating that she was killed in a cold-blood by the Gujarat police.

Current BJP President, and Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah was jailed for a few months in relation to the case before he was let off.

This shows a serious trend where the state is targeting lawyers. It shows a complete breakdown of the rule of law.

Booking Gadling under the UAPA, Desai noted, made it very difficult for him to get bail.

The aim here is not to convict Gadling, but to freeze his actions,It is something society should take note of.


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When Daughter meets her mother in Prison #ReleaseShomaSen #DefendDissent

Mulaquaat #1

By Koel Sen
Yerwada Women’s Jail Pune
26 June 2018

She says, “It’s nice, not as bad as I had expected”.. Maa already looks different.
“No cots in the barrack… But the womens cell seems OK. Bedsheets and blankets are clean atleast. The women here, mostly the convicts try their best to work hard cleaning the jail premises, so that their sentence gets reduced.”

“I gather a lot of strength looking at these women here. These women are spending so much time in jail for theft and small time crookery. Some who have got life have been charged with murder. But they are so young. It’s sad.”

“I have a small notebook and pen… .”
“So you should start writing about this experience Maa”, I tell her. “Sketch out these characters, write their stories.. and yours, then I can make a film out of it”, and we both laugh.. .

Our laughter ran in echoes over a thick glass wall separating us both. A cheap intercom acted as the umbilical chord that once connected us. We laughed and laughed till tears fell out of both our eyes. “We’ll get through this”, I said. She kept her hand on the cold glass wall, I kept mine till we both could feel each other’s warmth cut across its harsh coldness.

#DefendDissent  #ReleaseShomaSen  #JusticeforShomaSen

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Advocate Vanchinathan’s wife files habeas corpus plea


The wife of advocate Vanchinathan, arrested on the charges of spearheading the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi, has filed a habeas corpus petition before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday. She sought an order restraining the authorities from invoking detention under National Security Act, 1980 against her husband.

The petitioner A. Nandini claimed that false cases were foisted against her husband and police fabricated confession statements against him. She said that her husband provided legal assistance as an advocate and a civil rights activist and had voiced for the people in their agitation against Sterlite Copper.

Ms. Nandini said that the police did not follow any mandatory procedures while arresting her husband. She said that he was picked up by the police in plain clothes from Chennai Airport on June 20. No intimation was given to the family members on the arrest, she said.

Senior counsel M.Ajmal Khan, representing the petitioner said, “Voice of dissent are being silenced”. He questioned as to how a prima facie case was made out to remand Vanchinathan.

However, Additional Advocate General K.Chellapandian said Mr. Vanchinathan was arrested following the charges against him and after his plea for anticipatory bail was dismissed by the High Court Bench.

Taking up the plea for hearing, a Division Bench of Justices C.T.Selvam and A.M.Basheer Ahamed directed status quo be maintained in the case and adjourned the case by a week for further hearing. The court also heard a slew of petitions filed against the police for arresting public under the National Security Act,1980. The cases have been adjourned to next week.

Mr. Vanchinathan is lodged in the Palayamkottai Central Prison. The Thoothukudi police had booked cases against him under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992.

The Hindu

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Student Leader Richa Singh Arrested: “Police Not Students Set A Bus on Fire” #DefendDissent

Arrested for protesting against UPPSC Hindi paper leak

 NEW DELHI: Richa Singh, former Student Union President (Allahabad University) has been arrested for staging a protest along with several other Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) aspirants, who were protesting against the leakage of the Hindi compulsory paper, that was listed for the afternoon shift of the PCS Mains examination, on 19 June, 2018. Several of the students allege of being brutally lathi charged by police, after a bus was set on fire, at the protest site.

Following the protest by aspirants of the UPPSC examination, a two-member probe panel headed by Secretary Jagdish, has been set up to look into the matter.

The Citizen spoke to Richa Singh, while she was held in custody of the police. “I am in police custody at present, therefore cannot speak for long. The UPPSC was scheduled to hold a compulsory hindi examination on 19 June, 2018. The second meetings question papers were leaked in the first meeting in one centre, itself. Therefore the students gathered together and made a simple demand to the UPPSC administration, that it should take a note of the fact and ensure that the administration ensures that none of the other papers are leaked, henceforth. The administration denied the request saying ‘we cannot guarantee that’. After the cancellation of the examinations, all students formed a human chain in front of the UPPSC office to peacefully protest, at around 7:00 pm in the evening yesterday. These are all students who are currently appearing for the examination. Suddenly, we noticed that one of the buses nearby was set up on fire, by few police officials present near the protest. We have the video with us. They set the bus on fire and then attacked the students and detained all of us from the spot. 7 of us were arrested, as several individuals have been brutally beaten up. They are all appearing for Mains, and most of them have serious injuries like a broken leg or a broken shoulder. Out of the 7 people arrested, 6 are appearing for the exams tomorrow. They have an exam scheduled tomorrow and they have been held in the Civil Lines Police Station, even now. An FIR has been lodged against all of us, the entire blame of setting a public property on fire is put on me. They alleged that I set the bus on fire, and instigated protesters to agitate infront of the UPPSC office, yesterday evening. They have no evidence to prove what they state. Right now, they are letting the 6 students leave following their bail plea, while I am being sent to jail as my bail plea has been rejected. I request all of you to spread the word against this.”

The following is the video footage of the bus being set on fire, by a police personnel. This video footage was sent by Singh via whatsapp:


Following is the copy of the FIR filed against Singh:

The news of the arrest of the student leader and the 6 aspirants first spread through a Facebook post made by social activist Pradeep Narwal, a while back:

When The Citizen got in touch with Pradeep, he said, “Richa called in the morning and said that she with 6 other UPPSC aspirants, arrested yesterday for protesting against paper leak of UPPSC. Police is charging them under false cases. Police is saying that they had burnt a bus, but actually the police have burnt the bus themselves. She called me from hospital where she was taken for medical treatment, in the morning.”

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Enviornmental Activist Piyush Manush arrested, he was against expansion of Salem airport #DefendDissent

Piyush Mnaush friend and activiwas vocal with his protest against the expansion of the Salem airport as well as plans for the proposed 8 lane highway between Salem and Chennai.

A day after actor Mansoor Ali Khan was detained by the Salem police in Chennai, Salem- based environmental activist Piyush Manush was arrested on Monday evening.

Piyush Manush has been protesting the expansion of the Salem airport as well as the proposed eight-lane Chennai-Salem expressway.

Piyush’s family informed that  he was picked up at 8pm and for four hours no one could communciate with him, his mobile was swicthed off,  he was prodiuced before the magistrate at 1.00am, deliberately .. as they did not want protests for his arrest . He has been send to policu custody for 15 days and we will be moning for Bail.

A few days ago, a lawyer named Manikandan had approached the TN DGP with a complaint against Piyush and alleged that the activist was inviting people against developmental projects.

Piyush had brought Mansoor Ali Khan to Salem to speak to villagers and had registered his protest through a Facebook post against the actor’s arrest.

Piyush was arrested under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot); 189 (threat of injury to public servant); 506 (ii) (criminal intimidation) IPC and 7 (1) Criminal Law Amendment Act.

Salem police arrests Manzoor Ali Khan, who cleaned our lake, planted trees, donated money for lake restoration, spoke in support of the people to be affected by projects of 8 way lane and airport expansion..

Crimes are taken up seriously it seems by tn police..

A video in which Piyush had spoken about against the airport expansion project had drawn criticism from supporters of the project.

Over the past few weeks, the proposed project has been facing stiff resistance from farmers and residents in the villages along the highway.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the area on Saturday, Mansoor Ali Khan said, “I came to Salem to see the water bodies filled with water. If Salem gets an airport, 8-lane highway etc, people can’t live in Salem. If the 8-lane road comes, then many trees and hills will be destroyed. It will affect the livelihood of the people who live here. Hence, the state and the central government must not implement it. Moreover, if there are protests against the highway, I will definitely participate. If the eight-lane project is implemented, then I will kill eight people and go to jail.”

Police said actor Mansoor Ali Khan made a provocative speech in Thumbipadi, Pottiyapuram and Sikkanampatti villages on May 3, threatening to attack officials if they took steps for acquiring farm lands for the eight-lane project. Since Mr. Piyush had taken the actor to these villages, the Theevattipatti police registered case against him as well as against the actor.

Mr. Piyush is accused No. 1 in the case and the actor is accused No. 2.

The ‘Chennai-Salem Greenfield Corridor’ under the Bharatmala Pariyojana, a centrally-sponsored and funded road and highways project, is a 277.30 km highway that involves the development of the Tambaram to Harur Section of NH-179B, Harur to Salem Section of NH-179A, Chengalpattu to Kancheepuram Section of NH-132B, Semmampadi to Chetpet Section of NH-179D and Polur to Tiruvannamalai Section of NH-38.

The corridor essentially involves an eight-lane highway, connecting the two cities via Krishnagiri, Tiruvannamalai and Kancheepuram.

Farmers of Poolavari, Nilavarapatti, Naazhikkalpatti, Kuppanur and Achankuttapatti villages have already expressed concern with locals from the last village even reportedly blocking Revenue Department officials from surveying the land that had to be acquired.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami stated in the Assembly that the state government had fought for this project and claimed that only 41 acres of forest land would be acquired. He also added that of the 1,900 hectares of land being acquired, 400 hectares belong to the government. He assured that the project would take the form of a tunnel when it passes through forest areas.

Farmers, whose land will be acquired to implement the Rs 10,000-crore Chennai-Salem Greenfield Corridor, are opposing the project fearing a loss of livelihood, threat to the ecosystem and measly compensation offered by the government which a section of them claim is well below the market rate

Farmers in Dharmapuri, Salem and Tiruvannamalai started protesting the project from May when the terms for land acquisition with details of survey numbers of land to be acquired were notified under the Land Acquisition Act of 2013. Recently, more than 500 farmers, environmental activists, advocates and locals protested demanding the central government to withdraw the project. A separate forum was also formed to protest against this project called “Pasumai yettu Vazhi Saalai Yethirpu Kuzhu” (Anti- committee for eight lane green corridor).

Piyush Manush was earlier arrested in July 2016 for trying to stop work on a bridge at Muluvadi gate in Salem. He was detained under non-bailable sections for many days.

Piyush Post and Video


Airport is a much needed infra but can it come at the cost of thousands of people fending for themselves from the land and contributing productively to the community.

For 30 years since the Salem airport came into being people who gave lands in 1989 are grappling to get a decent compensation and the court case has dragged for three decades.

Now the govt wants to expand the airport which after so many is seeing one aircraft running half empty..


Why this folly is the question.. Salems desertification needs to stop.



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Activists Arrest – Pune Cops claims hold no water Lawyers

By: Sagnik.Chowdhury

The Pune Police’s spiel in court on the threats from ‘urban Maoism’ with regard to the Bhima Koregaon violence is only aimed at creating prejudice and stoking passions, alleged experts in criminal law.

They said the police’s startling claims and the rapidly shifting narrative — from inflammatory speeches at Elgaar Parishad in Pune the day before the violence, to a letter hinting at a plot to assassinate the PM, to a recruitment drive at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) under the garb of a lecture series — have no mention in either the FIR that set the case in motion or the two applications for remand of alleged top urban Maoist operatives Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Surendra Gadling, who were arrested in a multicity operation on June 6.

Mum on allegations

As per the FIR registered on January 8, members of cultural group Kabir Kala Manch — Sudhir Dhawale, Sagar Gorkhe, Jyoti Jagtap, Harshali Potdar, Ramesh Gaichor and at least six others —made speeches, sung songs, recited couplets and performed street plays at Elgaar Parishad that were divisive and inflammatory in nature, and which incited the violent clashes that broke out the next day.

By the time the police arrested Dhawale, Wilson, Gadling, Sen and Raut, the narrative had begun to shift. They alleged that these five had set up an “urban front” for the banned CPI (Maoist) and made attempts through it to engage in anti-national activities.

The following day, the plot took on more menacing tones. While seeking police custody of these five, district government pleader Ujjwala Pawar told a Pune court that an incriminating letter had been recovered from the electronic devices seized from the accused.

She read out parts of the letter and, without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, spoke of “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”. The remand report was, however, silent on this claim.

On June 14, there was still no mention of the assassination plot when the police sought further custody of the accused. Instead, Pawar said the police had recovered new evidence from an forensic analysis of the electronic devices, which pointed to a CPI(Maoist) conspiracy to indoctrinate and recruit students during a lecture series planned in JNU in memory of Maoist leader Naveen Babu, who was killed in an encounter in 2000. Four letters were submitted for the court’s perusal.

Again, the remand report made no mention of this new revelation.

Sinister motives?

Yug Chaudhry, human rights and criminal lawyer, alleged that the police have no proof to back their startling allegations. “They are clutching at straws and are, therefore, making inflammatory statements in order to prejudice the judge and make this case look bigger than it is, so that bail is denied.

Their primary objective is to deny bail. When bail is denied, they have the accused in custody and they have the chance to fabricate evidence. This is the sole reason behind making such claims. Eventually, the case will collapse.

Look at how few convictions they have managed to obtain in other Maoist cases.”

Chaudhry argued that since the police have “nothing in hand”, neither the assassination plot nor the recruitment drive has found a place in the FIR or the remand application.

“That’s why you have these crazy statements being made across the bar which are utterly devoid of any substance and are meant only to serve the purpose of inflaming public sentiment and prejudicing both the media and the court. For them, this is a battle they are waging in the court of public opinion as well as the judicial court.”

Pawar had contended in court on June 14 that the “FIR is not an encyclopaedia. It is merely to set the process of criminal law in motion”. Defending the application of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against the five, which were not invoked in the FIR, she argued that attempted murder charges are often changed to a murder charge if a victim dies.

Chaudhry, however, said that since the statements were made during a remand hearing, it indicates that they’re the linchpin of the case. “How are they not in the FIR? It is understandable if minor details are missing, but the very heart of your case has to be there.”

Dubbing the allegations “mischievous endeavours”, senior criminal lawyer Vijay Pradhan said, “How trivial and mischievous all this is can come on record during the trial. It is absolutely trifling. Outside the bounds of a legal query, there are other considerations that lead to such mischievous endeavours.”

Commenting on the grounds of confidentiality cited by the police while submitting the retrieved letters for the court’s perusal, senior lawyer Yusuf Muchhala said, “They can claim confidence only if the document is not in the public domain. Where is the question of confidence now? Confidentiality is gone. The letter should have been cited in the remand application.”

Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut and Surendra Gadling were arrested on June 6

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India – Prof Shoma Sen and Portrait of a ‘ Maowadi”

Portrait of a ‘Maowadi’
Shoma Sen
The last time I met Shoma Sen, who was recently arrested for her alleged Maoist links, was at Nagpur Airport. I told her she needn’t have come all the way to meet me. Her reply – “It’s no trouble for me. It’s my driver who takes all the trouble” — made Shoma’s past flash through my mind.

Daughter of fairly well-off parents, she married a worker and moved to a chawl in Elphinstone Road after growing up on Bandra’s leafy, quiet Turner Road. And now, a chauffeur-driven car? Seeing my expression, Shoma shrugged. “Either I kill myself with guilt and hoard my earnings, or I use them to make life a little comfortable at this age,” she explained, in the calm, logical tone which characterised her.

Shoma will turn 60 in August. She would have retired from Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, as Head of the English Department. Her parents — father, the creative head of an ad agency, and mother an art teacher — would have been proud. Instead, on Friday, the university where she taught, suspended her for her supposed ties to Naxals. When she married a worker she met during her involvement in Mumbai’s historic textile strike, the Sens were dismayed, but supportive. For they had long been acquainted with their daughter’s sympathies.

In an interview to this reporter in 2009, marking the 40th anniversary of the Naxalite movement, Sen recalled how moved she had felt as a schoolgirl when her father had answered her queries about Naxalites. “I wanted to go to Presidency College and look for Naxalites. I used to fight with God for being so unfair towards the poor,” she said. A birthday card her father had made for her, had a bust of Karl Marx against the backdrop of Central Park in Salt Lake, Kolkata, where the Sens lived after her father retired.

The older Sens got along with young people in a way other parents didn’t. Their warmth and wit brightened the many afternoons spent in their home in the 80s, where Shoma and I worked on Adhikar Raksha, the bulletin of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR). Her mother was an accomplished singer, and their home was where I first heard Rabindra Sangeet.

Given this background, Shoma must have struggled to de-class herself. But whenever we met, she was her equanimous self, occasionally referring to awkward moments in her new life with her typical self-deprecatory sense of humour.

What helped was her instant rapport with her mother-in-law, which remained strong even after she separated from her husband. Shoma moved to Nagpur when her daughter was little. After living in a bubble of activist friends in Mumbai, she found herself surrounded by women who enjoyed making papad and noodles from scratch.

Being Shoma, she felt compelled to set up a democratic rights group in this incredibly hot and dry city, which she navigated on a moped. She fell in love again, but her husband had to spend years in jail on charges of being a Maoist, before he was acquitted.

Friends worried about both mother and daughter, but they needn’t have. The latter graduated from FTII, sported weird hair in the manner of students today, and now teaches cinema. As for Shoma, she bloomed as a teacher, appreciated by both students and seniors. Promoted as Head of Department, her articles appeared in scholarly publications such as the Economic and Political Weekly and The Journal of Commonwealth Literature.

Along the way, the permanent activist mellowed, allowing herself the luxury of domestic help (not one, but two worked in her tasteful home); a kitchen garden which her husband tended; watching Mad Men and other TV series; even occasional holidays abroad from where she posted pictures on Facebook. She seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time on social media, posting her own pictures in striking handloom sarees. Her in-laws spoke highly of the oldfashioned Bengali delicacies she cooked for them. Given her arthritis, high blood pressure and early glaucoma, she started going for yoga classes at the nearby temple. She had already started learning the sitar; after retirement, she hoped to spend more time on it and on her other passion, travel.

Having finally turned thoroughly bourgeois, Sen has now been charged with an unbelievable array of crimes: from being entrusted with collecting funds for Maoists, to instigating violence after the Bhima Koregaon rally, to being part of a plot to assassinate a prime minister. “The 70s and 80s were the best years of my life,” Shoma had said, in the interview referred to above.

“Everyone was anti-establishment. To agitate was accepted.” This rebellious spirit never left Shoma. She’s been part of every campaign against the State for violation of human rights. Now she’s paying for it.

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Prof Shoma Sen arrested for Bhima Kaoregaon Violence suspended by Nagpur University #WTFnews

Prof Shoma Sen held for ‘Maoist links’ suspended by Nagpur university
Shoma Sen was the head of English department at Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University
Bhima Koregaon violence

V-C says they have suspended Shoma Sen after learning from police that she has been detained under IPC sections

Prof Shoma Sen, who was recently arrested for alleged Maoist links, was suspended on Friday by Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU), where she was the head of English department.

On June 6, the Pune police probing the January 1 Bhima Koregaon violence, had arrested five people, including Sen, for allegedly having Maoist links.

Vice Chancellor of the university Dr SP Kane said that Sen has been suspended from the service till further orders. “She was suspended on the basis of information received from Pune police that she has been detained under various IPC sections,” Kane said while replying to a query. “Similarly, I had sought legal opinion on the issue and her suspension is also due to her remaining in police custody for more than 48 hours,” he said.

Besides Sen, Pune police had also arrested activist Mahesh Raut and lawyer Surendra Gadling from Nagpur, prominent Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai and Rona Wilson from his flat in Delhi.

The Pune police had earlier told a sessions court that the accused were allegedly involved in planning and executing a lecture series in JNU in Delhi “in the memory” of a Naxalite, who was killed in a police encounter, to instigate students to join the proscribed CPI (Maoist) outfit.

Sen’s husband Tusharkanti Bhattacharya was arrested from Nagpur station for alleged Naxal links in 2010. According to police, Dhawale was one of the organisers of Elgar Parishad, which was held to commemorate 200 years of the Bhima Koregaon battle on December 31 at Shaniwarwada.

Kabir Kala Manch activists had allegedly made provocative speeches at the event leading to violence at Bhima Koregaon in the district, according to an FIR registered at Vishrambaug police station after the event.

One person was killed in the caste violence between two groups near Sanaswadi, adjacent to Bhima Koregaon. The violence led to a statewide Dalit agitation.

The mobs had damaged and torched several vehicles and shops on New Year’s day and the houses of local residents were also ransacked.


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Bhima Koregaon Violence Arrests- Cops change narrative from #PlotToKillPM to organising JNU lecture #WTFnews

After mentioning plot to assassinate PM Narendra Modi, they submitted on Thursday that a lecture at JNU was being organised in memory of alleged Naxalite who died in encounter

Almost a week after submitting in court that a plan on the lines of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination was being hatched, the Pune cops have now come up with a different stand while demanding custody of the arrested accused involved in Elgaar Parishad funding. The cops have claimed that the accused were planning a lecture at JNU in memory of alleged Naxalite Yalavarthi Naveen Babu, who died in an encounter in April 2000. The court has now remanded four of the total five accused in police custody till June 21.

The Pune police had arrested five people for allegedly funding the Elgaar Parishad in a bid to recruit more people for Naxal activities. They had further alleged that the accused were urban Naxals. The arrests come five months after right-wing activist and construction professional Tushar Damgude filed a complaint against organisers of the Elgaar Parishad for inciting violence in Koregaon Bhima on January 1.

On April 17, the cops conducted raids on some of these members. A month and a half later, they arrested Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Surendra Gadling. Cops had claimed that all the five are members of the banned communist party of India (Maoist) and booked them under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). When they were produced in court on June 7, cops had submitted a letter which stated that a plan for assassination was being hatched for which a weapon was being bought. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis later stated that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was to be assassinated as part of this conspiracy. But during the hearing on Thursday, while the cops claimed that an anti-national activity was being planned, they failed to mention anything about the assassination conspiracy. Claiming that they have recovered new data, they also submitted four letters in the court, two of which they claimed were new. They also said that they have obtained 25 TB data from electronic gadgets that were taken in custody during the raids.

They, however, came up with a new theory which established a connection of the accused with Naxalites. While stating that they had obtained Rs 80,000 from the possession of Wilson, they also claimed that there was a plan to organise a lecture at JNU.

Speaking in the court, advocate Ujjwala Pawar, public prosecutor, said, “It is established that they were trying to establish this plan with the help of CPI (Maoist). They were also part of anti-national activities for which funds were provided. Also there are more accused along with the arrested ones. So we demand that the court remands them in 14 days’ of police custody.”

After his arrest, Gadling took severely ill and was sent to judicial custody earlier this week. Meanwhile, lawyers of the accused said that their health issues were being ignored by the cops, and demanded that they be remanded to magisterial custody. Highlighting loopholes in the remand of the cops, Susan Abraham, Sen’s lawyer, said, “Last time, they came up with a Modi assassinations plan. This time, they have a JNU theory. But they are not submitting a single proof. What exactly is going on?”

Lawyers also questioned submission of new facts from the same raid. Advocate Toushif Shaikh, Raut’s lawyer, said, “Cops conducted a raid on April 17 and obtained all the data from the same day. But they are coming up with new facts from the raids during every new hearing. We have demanded that they submit a list of what all they have procured during a single hearing in court.”

(L-R) Arrested accused Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut are now remanded in police custody till June 21

pl sign and share petition

They have been arrested to muzzle the voice of reason’

Family members of Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut — arrested as alleged urban Maoists — speak up

As the five accused and arrested from various parts of the country for their alleged Maoist links in connection with the Elgaar Parishad, which was held in the city on December 31, 2017, were produced in court on Thursday, family members of two huddled into a corner, speculating about the proceedings inside the court.

A week after the arrests, in which time multiple narratives and allegations have been hurled against those arrested, these family members — Koel Sen, Shoma Sen’s daughter, and Sneha and Monali Raut, Mahesh Raut’s sisters — are steadfast in their belief that they have been framed only so that they could back out from the protests and movements they were a part of.

Monali expressed her concern about her brother’s health, alleging that the cops were not giving him his medicines. Mahesh has been suffering from ulcers in the stomach, has had a liver problem for a while, and has been advised ayurvedic medication. Speaking about the arrests, Monali said, “Mahesh didn’t know any of the accused. He had only heard of Surendra Gadling, because he is from Nagpur.” She emphasised on her brother’s concern for the underprivileged, as he was born in a middle-class family himself. As the family’s financial condition was not very strong, he was advised to take a D Ed course, following which he joined a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Goa as a teacher. However, he wasn’t happy with his career choice. Hence, after consulting with his family members he started preparing for an MBA entrance exam. He eventually joined the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for a master’s course.

“Just as he was on the verge of completing his MA, he was offered a job in Delhi. He earned well but could not overcome the gnawing emptiness within, which stemmed from the realisation that he wasn’t doing anything for society at large,” said Monali. Soon after, following another round of talks with his family members, he quit his job and moved back to Gadchiroli to begin social work. According to his sister, he made the people aware of forest, mining and land-related laws. “While he wasn’t earning anything, it was because of him that the people became aware of vital issues and started voicing their demands. He applied for the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF) during this time and got selected. This gave a boost to his work and he could focus on these issues officially. But when the government changed, he decided to quit and start working independently again,” she said.

Interestingly, Mahesh Raut and Harshali Potdar (a Mumbai-based activist), whose house was raided by cops on April 17 in connection to the Elgaar Parishad, were also taken into custody in 2013 when Mahesh was a PMDRF fellow. When quizzed about this, Monali said, “Harshali was his junior and she was visiting Gadchiroli for an awareness drive on mining. We should take into account that it was due to a letter from the then minister Jairam Ramesh that they decided to let him go. If he was involved in anything illegal would a minister have supported him? In fact, Mahesh always maintained that in the Naxal-police conflict in the zone, it is the innocent who suffered. We feel that they have framed him in this case because they want to go ahead with the mining projects,” she said, calling attention to the fact that the chief minister recently spoke about these projects during his foreign tour. “If Mahesh is arrested, the voice against the projects will automatically be quietened and the question of protests wouldn’t arise.”

Koel Sen, an independent filmmaker, did not have a very different opinion either. “Last time the cops came up with allegations of assassinations, while now there was no mention of it. How can this be the case?” she quizzed. “It is the first time that this has happened. My mother has no history of being quizzed by the police or getting arrested. She is a human rights and Dalit activist.”

Koel further claimed that her mother had not heard of many people who have been arrested. “My mother is doing her research on Dalit issues. She has been critical of a lot of things, including certain areas of the Maoist movement. She didn’t know any of them except for Sudhir Dhawale, a well-known Dalit activist. I hadn’t heard of Rona Wilson or Mahesh Raut, from my mother, despite the cops claiming that Wilson had written to my mother with reference to these arrests. In fact, I wondered who Wilson was when I heard about the arrests. She had spoken about Kobad Ghandy earlier because they were friends from college, back in1970. After that, all of them moved in different directions,” said Koel.

Underscoring a conspiracy, she said that these arrests were just an attempt to shut the voices of liberal thinking people like her parents who think that Dalits must have a voice. “It’s very simple — the political atmosphere in the country is such that no one is ready to tolerate people from the so-called lower communities speaking up; and when they do, they must be brought down,” concluded Koel.

Koel Sen (L), daughter of the accused Shoma Sen (top), said her mother doesn’t even know the other nabbed persons; Mahesh Raut’s (above) sister Monali Raut said he has been framed to ensure various mining projects are not opposed

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Bhima-Koregaon arrests are Maharashtra government’s bone-chilling attempts to subvert justice

The Pune Police at 6.00 am on June 6, 2018 carried out simultaneous raids in Mumbai, Nagpur and New Delhi. From Mumbai, they arrested Sudhir Dhawale — the editor of the progressive Marathi magazine Vidrohi and a key organiser of the Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan. From Nagpur, they picked up three individuals — advocate Surendra Gadling, general secretary, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers; Professor Shoma Sen, the head of the Department of English, Nagpur University; and Mahesh Raut, anti-displacement activist from Bharat Jan Andolan and a former fellow at the Prime Minister’s Rural Development (PMRD) for Gadchiroli District. They arrested Rona Wilson, public relations secretary, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, from New Delhi.

These arrests and searches were purportedly made under an FIR registered on January 8, 2018 at Vishram Baug Police Station, Pune, with regard to the holding of the Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017 by the Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan. This FIR, originally registered under sections 153(A), 505 (1)(b), 117 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), was made into a conspiracy case in March 2018 and now has had sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) added to it. The June 6 arrests have thus been made under UAPA, which has several draconian provisions that ensure long detention and makes it difficult to obtain bail.

These arrests come in the face of the mass demand of several political parties and human rights organisations and activists and the Prerna Abhiyan, in particular, to arrest the two leaders of Sangh Parivar organisations who were responsible for the violence on January 1, 2018 at Bhima Koregaon — Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote.

in particular, to arrest the two leaders of Sangh Parivar organisations who were responsible for the violence on January 1, 2018 at Bhima Koregaon — Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote

The Fadnavis government, which has been protecting these actual perpetrators of the violence, has been attempting to create a false narrative that the violence at Bhima Koregaon was caused by the Elgar Parishad and that banned Maoist organisations are behind the Prerna Abhiyan.

Targeting the Dalit coalition

The Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan is a coalition of around 260 mass organisations under the Chairmanship of Retired Supreme Court Justice P B Sawant and includes prominent political figures like advocate Prakash Ambedkar, the leader of the Bahujan Republican Party (Bharip), and the retired high court judge Justice Kolse-Patil. In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon that vanquished the Peshwa rule, the Abhiyan had organised the Elgar Parishad, a mass meeting on December 31, 2017 at the historic Shaniwar wada in Pune. Several prominent speakers, including Justice Kolse-Patil, Prakash Ambedkar, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, Umar Khalid and others, with about fifty thousand people attending. Elgar Parishad was organised with the stated objective of fighting the nav-peshwahi, or the new Brahminical forces ruling the country today. The programme was historic and immensely successful, attended by thousands from across the state and even other parts of the country.

It is important to note that there were no untoward incidents on that day, December 31, 2017. No clashes, no riots

It is important to note that there were no untoward incidents on that day, December 31, 2017. No clashes, no riots. A most disciplined crowd dispersed at the end of the programme.  It was two centuries ago, on January 1, 1818, that a few hundred Mahar soldiers, fighting as part of the British Indian army, defeated over 20,000 Peshwa soldiers in the battle of Bhima Koregaon, which is 40 kilometres away from Pune in Maharashtra. Over the years, lakhs of Dalits have converged at Bhima Koregaon, much like the manner in which crowds gather at Deeksha Bhoomi in Nagpur every year to celebrate the rejection of Hinduism and embrace of Buddhism by Dr B R Ambedkar, as well as those that assemble at Chaitya Bhoomi at Dadar on December 6 to pay respects on his death anniversary.

Several right-wing groups like the Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasabha, Rashtriya Ekatmata Rashtra Abhiyan, Hindu Aghadi and also the descendants of the Peshwas have, however, opposed the celebration, calling it “anti-national” and “casteist”. The government and the right-wing forces were thus alarmed and shaken with such unprecedented mobilisation of anti-communal forces. Instigated by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, two right-wing activists who are closely connected with the RSS and the ruling BJP government, mobs carrying saffron flags, as part of a pre-meditated plan, attacked the Dalit masses who were congregating to commemorate the event at Bhima-Koregaon.

There were huge protests all over the state against the right-wing led violence against the Dalit congregation at Bhima Koregaon on January 1. There was a successful Maharashtra bandh on 3rd January 3, of not only entire Mumbai-Kalyan but of many parts of Maharashtra as well. This too irked the government and the right-wing forces no end.

The first FIR to be registered was against Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote

The first FIR to be registered was against Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote. To counter this, C.R. No. 2 of 2018 of Vishrambagh Police Station under sections 153-A, 505, 117 of IPC, was registered against Jignesh Mevani and Umar Khalid, two of the most popular speakers at the Elgar Parishad. It took eight days for the police to register C.R. No. 4 of 2018 under sections 153-A, 505, 117 of IPC on January 8 2018 against Sudhir Dhawale and five others. This is the FIR upon which the June 6 arrests of Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut were carried out. Of the five, only Sudhir Dhawale’s name finds mention in the original FIR of January 8.

A trail of illegal, vindictive arrests

While arrests were being carried out in different parts of the country on June 6, instead of the usual display of arms and ammunition seized to show Maoist links, the Pune police were surreptitiously leaking letters, purportedly seized from those arrested, showing deep Maoist links to the Elgar Parishad and thereby concluding that the violence of the extreme right-wing forces on January 1 on the Dalit masses at Bhima Koregaon was actually instigated by the Maoists, who in turn were funded by the Congress party. And the supposed deep links of the accused five with all this was as liaison between Maoists and Congress Party to organise the Elgar Parishad! A letter released a day later made an even more bizarre claim of a suggested assassination plot on Prime Minister Narendra Modi (See images).

letter 1

letter 2

A press conference taken on June 7 by Pune Joint Commissioner of Police, Ravindra Kadam, lent credence to these letters. The modus operandi of Ravindra Kadam publicising supposedly sensitive material to the press being questionable is just one aspect of the sordid saga.

These letters were not filed in the court of Special Sessions Judge Bhaisare, Pune, on June 7

These letters were not filed in the court of Special Sessions Judge Bhaisare, Pune, on June 7 when the accused were produced before him. Nor were the defence lawyers given copies of these letters. Most importantly, they do not find a mention in the remand application of the Investigating Officer, ACP Dr Shivaji Pawar, Swargate, Pune demanding 14-day police custody remand (PCR) of the accused. The judge after hearing two hours of arguments by the defence lawyers about the illegality of the arrest and of imposing the draconian UAPA against them, while the real perpetrators of the Bhima Koregaon violence have been allowed to go scot free, granted the police PCR of seven days, till June 14.

The condition of those illegally incarcerated is serious. Surendra Gadling, who was surreptitiously produced at 5 am on June 7 before the Sessions Judge Bhaisare, in order to avoid presenting him along with the others, was even foisted with a legal aid lawyer, which he refused. However, for the rest of the day, the canard was spread that Gadling had accepted the legal aid lawyer provided by Pune police.

It is a tragic irony that Gadling, who has become world-famous for his skills as a successful criminal lawyer, particularly in special security laws like TADA, POTA, NSA and UAPA, today finds himself an accused in a UAPA case

It is a tragic irony that Gadling, who has become world-famous for his skills as a successful criminal lawyer, particularly in special security laws like TADA, POTA, NSA and UAPA, today finds himself an accused in a UAPA case. He was briefly admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the government hospital in Pune. In order to wash their hands off it, the Pune police promptly applied for MCR and Judge Bhaisare even granted it, possibly in the presence of the fake legal aid lawyer. On Monday, June 11, Gadling was transferred to Yedwada jail in Pune despite being critically ill.

Similarly, all the other accused have terrible stories to tell.

Dr Shoma Sen was about to celebrate her 60th birthday in just a month’s time and to retire as HoD, English at Nagpur University.

Dr Shoma Sen was about to celebrate her 60th birthday in just a month’s time and to retire as HoD, English at Nagpur University. With one sleight of its hand, the Pune Police have ensured that she will be denied the dignity and benefits of having served the university for the past 30 years.

Sudhir Dhawale, who had got a clean acquittal (won by none other than Surendra Gadling) in a UAPA case falsely foisted on him by the very same Ravindra Kadam in 2011 while he was the DIG, Anti-Naxal Operations, Nagpur, an acquittal which the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court refused to set aside when Kadam appealed against it. He has now been foisted with a fresh UAPA case.

and with another sleight of hand, the immense work put in by Sudhir Dhawle in organising the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad has been tarnished with a Maoist-link brush.

And with another sleight of hand, the immense work put in by Sudhir Dhawle in organising the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad has been tarnished with a Maoist-link brush.

On her part, Rona Wilson, who for the past decade had been campaigning for the release of political prisoners, has become one himself. Mahesh Raut, the youngest of those arrested, a committed former PMRD Fellow who was campaigning for the democratisation of Gram Sabhas in Gadchiroli, will see his finest years snatched away.

The entire operation has been stage-managed by the Maharashtra government keeping in mind two things. First, to suppress the judicial inquiry headed by the retired Justice J N Patel in order to ensure that submissions from the victims of Hindutva and state violence on January 1 at Bhima-Koregaon, and after the successful Maharashtra bandh called by Dalit groups on January 3, are suppressed. Secondly, this is a desperate act to queer the pitch for the forthcoming elections in the state as well as Centre in 2019. Thus, the BJP government is desperate to create a reign of terror in order to polarise the Dalit and Bahujan votes. And also to create a terror narrative, thereby protecting the real terror culprits — Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote — who will ensure votes for the BJP.

There have been widespread protests throughout the country against the repressive actions of the Maharashtra and central governments, bringing to mind the days of the Emergency and foreboding the days of fascism in Europe in the 1940s. Organisations like CPDR, IAPL, PUCL, Amnesty International have strongly condemned this open show of state terror and complete bypassing of the rule of law by the government and have demanded the immediate release of Advocate Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawle, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut.

In the words of Surendra Gadling’s wife, Minal:

“When the police reached our house on June 6 at 6 am, my husband was told that he was under arrest. The police team was led by an officer whose sole purpose was to humiliate my husband. He was not allowed to take his clothes, medicines or toiletries. I pleaded with them saying he is under treatment and that if he suffers any medical emergency, then they would be responsible. My pleas had no effect on them.

When they took Surendra away, they did not inform me where they were taking him

When they took Surendra away, they did not inform me where they were taking him. They did not give me the phone number of the officer who I could contact. Later on, I came to know, this is the duty of the police officer arresting anyone. That the nearest relative has to be informed under what sections he is being arrested, where he is being taken and when he would be produced in court. And also that a contact number of the police officer has to be given to the nearest relative. In Surendra’s case, none of this was done. Despite the fact that he is a lawyer.

I next heard about Surendra at 8 pm when some lawyers met him. They did not tell me that he was admitted in Sassoon hospital. That is because he expressly told them not to, as he thought that I would get worried. But when his condition deteriorated, he himself got the police to call me and he asked me to come to Pune. I reached Pune from Nagpur on the morning of June 9. Surendra’s sister Darshana, who is a matron in Byculla Railway Hospital, also arrived from Mumbai. We too were given very bad treatment. We were allowed to meet him briefly and we learnt that he had been transferred to MCR (magisterial custody remand) and that he was being taken for angiography. The whole of the next day we were not allowed to meet him. On Monday, June 11 at 3 pm, the police officials took him away. They said that he was being taken to Yerwada jail. I asked them to wait till the medical reports came as he is a patient and to allow him to take a bag of clothes, medicines and toiletries which I had brought for him from Nagpur. They did not even allow that.

I don’t know what these people have against Surendra. It is inhuman the way they have been treating him from the day of his arrest on June 6. If anything happens to my husband, all these police persons will be responsible.”

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