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Archives for : Political Prisoners

Will Mallya extradition woes provide incentive to rectify conditions in Indian jails?

The truth is that almost all Indian prisons are far from compatible with Minimum Human Rights standards.


The latest twist in the Mallya affair has been a cause of much indignation as well as mirth. The London extradition court, on July 31, 2018, called for a proper video showing adequate access to natural light and fresh air at Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail. While some edit writers angrily want the United Kingdom to look at its own jails, cartoonists are having a field day caricaturing how Vijay Mallya could sunbathe in jail.

The ire of people yearning to bring a privileged rogue to justice is understandable. Mallya should not be allowed to go scot free. The bitter truth, however, is that it is often celebrity moments like this that serve to shed light on the country’s miserable human rights record and even provide the push to make some amends.

Extradition Law and Human Rights

When Judge Emma Arbuthnot of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court asked for better evidence that minimum prison conditions would be complied with at Arthur Road, she was only acting according to a well-settled position in British law.

This law was explicated in a 2015 landmark England and Wales High Court judgment (paras 49 and 50) on an Italian request for extradition and was applied in the October 2017 judgment (para 30) that rejected the Indian request for extradition of international bookie Sanjeev Kumar Chawla.

It is in accordance with Section 87 of the UK Extradition Act, which requires the Judge to decide whether the extradition would be compatible with European Human Rights Convention rights and compliance with their Prison Rules.

Much of the discussion in the Indian media seems to suggest that British courts are unfairly demanding European standards from Indian prisons. However, the Indian government too is party to the adoption in 2015 by the UN General Assembly of the United Nations Minimum Rules for the treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) which stipulate similar conditions.

Judge Arbuthnot’s specific concerns are reflected in Rule 14 of the Nelson Mandela Rules which requires that “windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read and work by natural light and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air”.

panel-1-copy_080418022707.jpg(Illustration: Arun Ferriera and Vernon Gonsalves)

The truth is that almost all Indian prisons and particularly Arthur Road Jail are far from compatible with Minimum Human Rights standards. On the particular aspect of “natural light” and “fresh air”, the High-Security areas of Arthur Road are extremely deficient.

Vernon Gonsalves, one of the co-authors of this piece has had personal experience in this regard. His first realisation of the impact of this deficiency came on the day he and his co-accused, Sridhar Srinivasan were produced in court after a gap. One of the defence lawyers, who had first seen them immediately after arrest, commented, “You guys are looking fair”.

This newly acquired complexion was however not some fairness cream creation. They had by then spent some months in Barrack No 5 of the High-Security Anda Circle of the Arthur Road Jail. This is a single-cell barrack which had housed Abu Salem during the first few months after he had been extradited from Portugal. Its architecture prevents direct sunlight from reaching the cell or even the 10×3 feet patch that passes for a barrack courtyard. This had brought about the paleface look.

Anda Barracks 1 to 4 are only slightly better off. Here too the sun cannot reach any of the cells. It however pays short visits to some corners of the courtyards. As barracks are always overcrowded and only a few can get a chance, there is a rush to catch a place in the sun.

Proper access to sunlight was only possible after obtaining medical sanction or a court order. The patient would then be let out of the barrack and allowed to stand for a specified period near the Anda Circle watchtower which is exposed to the sun. In the absence of sunlight, reading is only possible with artificial light. The tube-lights are on twenty-four hours.

Cross ventilation and fresh air in the Anda is non-existent. All the cells of the Anda Circles in the prisons of Maharashtra have been built without windows. These cells, constructed from the 1980s onwards, have only security in mind.

They have even ignored the stipulation of the Maharashtra Prison Manual that requires free and thorough ventilation “by the provisions of large barred doors and windows constructed in opposite walls”. The substitute for windows are densely meshed holes of less than six-inch diameter placed very high up on the wall facing the gate. These “openings” are normally blocked by birds’ nests and other accumulated dirt, preventing any passage of air. Fans too only came in 2011.

Steel encased Circle No 12

Worse than Anda Circle is Circle no 12, which was reconstructed in 2009 for Ajmal Kasab, then facing trial in the 2008 Mumbai attacks case. Security agencies had found that new under-construction high-rise towers coming up in the jail’s vicinity offered direct line of sight into some corners of the Anda, making those portions potentially vulnerable to a sniper attack. Kasab, who was first kept alone in the six-cell Anda Barrack No 1 was soon shifted to the seven-cell Anda Barrack No 4 for this very reason.

The solution finally thought up was to construct a completely enclosed barrack, which could keep Kasab closeted away from sniper bullets. For good measure, the place was encased in steel sheeting – apparently to make it bomb proof. Obviously natural light and fresh air was nowhere a priority in the plan. Being totally cut off from the outside world, no one heard of any complaint from Kasab till his execution in November 2012.

However, the next occupant – Zabiuddin Ansari, another accused in the same 2008 Mumbai attacks case – went on a two-month hunger strike in 2015 protesting his prison conditions. He even petitioned the Supreme Court stating that he was “being detained in a cell without windows, illuminated only by a high-voltage electric bulb that is never switched off, making the cell seem like a “furnace”. Amnesty International too campaigned on his behalf. There were however no reports on any major change made in this regard.

panel-2-copy_080418023828.jpg(Illustration: Arun Ferriera and Vernon Gonsalves)

This is where Mallya is proposed to be lodged. Later entry of VIP prisoners in this section has seen the addition of facilities like western style commodes. There can, however, be no solution to the lack of natural light and fresh air. The government seems to have tried to get around this by manufacturing photographs of a naturally lit and well-ventilated setting that does not actually exist.

Judge Arbuthnot, however, caught them in the act. The Times of Indiareports that she pointed out that a shadow cast by a “distinctively shaped grill above the door” to the barrack “does not appear to be the sort of shadow cast by natural light”.

In fact, she plainly charged the Indian side with fabrication and manipulation. “The only way of getting that photo is to shine a bright light through that grill and open the doors to get it shining into the barrack. That cannot be a photo of natural light on any view,” she said. “There is no angle of the sun that I can conceive of other than by manipulation of the doors where light is shining in that way.”

Confronting and correcting human rights abuse

Going by these observations of the London court and the actual lack of light and air in the cells of Circle No 12 of Arthur Road, the government is likely to have a tough time at the next court date. The British judiciary may not also be inclined to be lenient with a state that has already sullied its reputation by violating its extradition treaty with Portugal in the Abu Salem matter.

The media has quoted unnamed Home Ministry officials who asserted that Arthur Road Jail was one of India’s best – a tall claim for a place that is horribly overcrowded with nearly 3000 inmates for a capacity of 804, ie over three and half times the limit. They want to convince the UK court that prisons in India were as good as in any other country in the world and prisoners’ rights were fully protected in Indian jails.

This sound more like bravado and bluff and will call for further fabrication at the next hearing. The reality is that Indian prison conditions are inhuman and the government is doing precious little about it. The dismal factual situation is disclosed at every hearing of an ongoing five-year-old writ petition in the Supreme Court initiated by former Chief Justice of India, RC Lahoti, entitled Re-Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons.

Meeran Chadha Borwankar, who was in charge of all Maharashtra Prisons, including Arthur Road, for over three years between 2012 and 2015 has a more honest response to the UK Court’s directions. She, in a signed article, squarely admits that “In fact, the prison administration in most states is understaffed and overworked, while prisons are overcrowded. The facilities are too basic, and even hygiene is a serious issue. Skin and pulmonary infections are common; medical facilities are average to poor.”

She suggests that “the UK court can be told that the facilities at Arthur Road are very basic, and Vijay Mallya, having been brought up in India, cannot feign ignorance. …It’s now time for him to reap what he has sown. Barrack No 12 at the Arthur Road Jail, is waiting for an undertrial — not a VIP.”

Such bluntness will certainly not bring Mallya back. It could, however, save our country the ignominy of being called a liar by a foreign court. It could help us to more sincerely confront our human rights abuses and start us on the path of rectifying them.

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India – Call to defeat ‘Bharat Jalao Party’

Arundhati Roy rings pre-poll alarm

Arundhati Roy in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: Several counter-establishment figures on Friday called for unity to oust the BJP from power at a large gathering demanding the release of political prisoners, including alleged Maoists arrested on the charge of inciting violence.

“Those who kill thousands in the country now sit in Parliament. Our task is not just to defeat them but to send them to jail,” Booker winner Arundhati Roy said.

“They won’t inquire into the mysterious death (of judge B.H. Loya) but they will arrest you and me and call us traitors. The next few days will be very dangerous. What they have started from Assam will be brought to Bengal and Delhi. They will decide who is a real Indian; the rest won’t get rice or a vote or Aadhaar.”

She added: “If we fight each other then the flames will burn for a thousand years. This Bharat Jalao Party is ready with matchsticks, before the polls…. They are afraid. They know they stand on the edge of defeat. What will they not do to return to power? What lies will they not spread…. These people have to be removed from Parliament this time.”

Far Left outfits, Ambedkarite and human rights groups had gathered to demand the release of Rona Wilson, spokesperson for the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners; Sudhir Dhawale, editor of Marathi fortnightly Vidrohi; lawyer Surendra Gadling, academic Shoma Sen, former Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow Mahesh Raut, Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad, CPIML Red Star’s Alik Chakraborty and others.

Punjab MP Dharamvira Gandhi, suspended from the Aam Aadmi Party, was among those who addressed the rally, which attracted several Punjabi peasants from communist groups.

Gandhi told The Telegraph: “I came to speak for human rights defenders whose lives are under threat for speaking up for Dalits, tribals and farmers…. We are here to fight against this targeting of activists by the state that is imposing this corporate-funded nationalism and religious fanaticism.”

A former Bombay High Court judge, Justice (retired) B.G. Kolse-Patil, one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad, which is under the glare of the Pune police, said: “When the country wants to progress, these rulers want India to go back to what it was 5,000 years ago…. When I retired, I promised that I wouldn’t fear the police or prisons…. Those who opposed the freedom movement are now running the show. Unless and until we unite, we cannot fight these forces.”

The Bhim Army’s Vinay Ratan Singh said: “I believe in the Constitution but I feel bad that those who work for education and young people are made Naxals by this government…. We know how to form governments and also how to pull them down. I challenge the state to do what they want, I challenge MPs to debate with eight and 14-year-olds from our Bhim Army schools.”

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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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