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Archives for : Bail

#Sundayreading – When Jinnah made bail plea for Tilak

Manjiri Damle

It is known to be one of the most inspiring legal battles in the history of trials in the world. Some even liken it to a brilliant game of chess.
And the protagonist was a proud Puneite, the father of Indian unrest against the British, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak.As Pune gets ready on Sunday to mark the centenary of Tilak’s release from Mandalay jail in Burma (now Myanmar) following his conviction in a sedition case, Vinay Dhumale, a noted researcher on Tilak, pointed out that the trial, Tilak’s almost impregnable defence of himself and his fight for freedom of expression have become an important milestone in India’s freedom struggle.

No wonder then that the final summation by Lokamanya Tilak, post the jury’s verdict, is inscribed in golden letters in the same central hall of the Bombay high court where the trial was conducted in 1908. There were many interesting aspects of Tilak’s trial, says Dhumale. When Ti lak was arrested for his “seditious” writings in daily Kesari, one advocate Davar had applied for his bail in the lower court, which was rejected. Interestingly, it was Davar’s father, justice Dinshaw Davar, who awarded the six-year jail term to Tilak for sedition.

“The son was very upset after the verdict and it was Tilak himself who consoled him and told him that his father only did his job and he (Tilak) bore no rancour toward him,” said Dhumale.

There was another attempt for bail where Tilak was represented by none other

than barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This application too had come before Dinshaw Davar, who rejected it. The third bail appeal was, however, successful. The trial in the case started later.Dhumale said the period leading to Tilak’s trial is significant because it marked the spirited fight by Tilak against British repression. Tilak was facing sedition charges over his fiery articles that had appeared in Kesari. “Tilak unleashed the phenomenal might of his pen and wrote series of devastating editorials in Kesari. Some of the articles were also penned by K P Khadilkar, an associate of Tilak. Most of these articles have acquired an iconic status in the realm of Marathi journalism. Tilak and his associates not only challenged various governmental actions, which were draconian in nature, but challenged the very basis of the British government ruling the Indian population,“ he said.

A month before the trial started, on June 8, 1908, Tilak was about to leave for Mumbai (then called Bombay) to help another Marathi newspaper editor S M Paranjape from possible prosecution. He was cautioned at Pune railway station by a well-wisher connected with local police intelligence that he should cancel the trip as it was likely he too would be arrested and sent to jail. Dhumale said that Tilak had thanked the gentleman for the cautionary word but told him that when the entire country had been turned into one big jail by the British government it made no difference to him even if he was arrested.

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Sudhir Dhawale , Dalit Activist who was released after 40 months- talks about his plans

Round Table India spoke to writer and political activist Sudhir Dhawale in Mumbai last week, after his release from a long term spent in prison due to false charges of being involved in Naxal activities. Arrested in January 2011, he was acquitted last week by Gondia’s sessions court after the police failed to produce substantial evidence against him. Here is the text of the interview: 

Round Table India: Forty months behind bars and finally you have been cleared off all charges, are there any plans ahead?

Sudhir Dhawale: Immediately after Khairlanji killings several political parties, Dalit activists, and lawyers came together. A need to have our own political front was felt. We launched ‘Republican Panthers’, on December 6, 2007. The front’s mandate was to construct a common political platform for Dalit activists along with left-leaning activists. Most of us either got targeted by the State or were forced to stay away from any political activities. I hope to revisit this front and revive it.

sudhir dhawale 1

RT: Will it be a political party or work for social causes.

Dhawale: No we do not wish to enter the political fray. Our work, as it was earlier, would focus on agitation, confrontation and providing the much needed support system to the victims of caste atrocities.

RT: What about your magazine Vidrohi. Did you manage to come out with the magazine after your arrest?

Dhawale: We managed to bring out four editions. But the team fell apart. My magazine was the first casuatly of my arrest. A ‘voice of dissent’ that we had so painstakingly built, was silenced by the State. But this is the first project I will begin now. Have to restart Vidrohi, with similar vigour. It will be a challenge to get the magazine published, but we will find a way out.

RT: Where you bothered by the police before your arrest? Most activists have complained of being stalked and harassed by the police for years before they are finally booked. It has happened in the case of Kabir Kala Manch activists, too.

Dhawale: Somewhere in 2006, around 200 different social groups from across Maharashtra had come together to attend one State level Parishad (conference). I was invited, too, as a speaker at that conference. It was organised by a Bhandara based women’s organization called Prabodh Mahila Sanghatana. Political, non-political organizations participated in it. BSP, RPI and other Dalit parties had participated too…

The then superintendent of police, Suresh Sagar sent out a circular saying Dhawale, a senior Naxal leader is participating and hence the conference can not be allowed. Sagar, also a Dalit officer, was SP during the Khairlanji massacre. But he did not care much about the atrocities. His role was just that of an officer of the ‘Anti Naxal Operations’ in the State.

RT: Was there constant fear looming over your head and others who vocally criticized the State?

Dhawale: Khairlanji made us all very restless. We were on the street seeking justice. This was seen as a direct threat by the State. I knew I will be picked up soon.

RT: The police in its chargesheet had documented your activities since early 1990’s. According to the chargesheet you were an active member of CPI (Maoist) for over two decades.

Dhawale: I am from Nagpur. I was actively involved in activities of CPI (Marxist-Leninist ) People’s War, which was not a banned organization. Until 1994, I was very active in the movement in Nagpur along with senior leaders like Kobad Gandhy and Anu (Anuradha Gandhy). While people started going underground around 1992-93, many like me moved to Mumbai in search of jobs and livelihood.

I had no criminal case (against me). A few small and insignificant ones like preventive detention and unlawful assembly charges were slapped against me for participating in protest. But it never went to the court.

RT: But they kept a close check on your movement?

Dhawale: Yes, they recognised all of us. We are old hands in the people’s movement. The ANO (Anti Naxal Operations) has a brilliant archive system in place. In my case, the police put together over two decade old pictures with Gandhy, seniors maoist leaders like Milind Teltumbde and Tushar Bhattacharya. Each time some one is arrested, they use these pictures to build their case. But it is not a solid evidence to prove anyone a naxal.

RT: Since 2006, several Dalit activists, professors, lawyers from Nagpur, and other parts of the State have been booked. Either under UAPA or rioting charges. Almost all of them had protested against the Khairlanji killing.

Dhawale: Dalits have always been an easy target, both for the State and the savarnas. Over hundreds of cases have been slapped against the protestors. Caste atrocity is a part of state oppressions. It is their conspiracy. As our voices became sharper, the State found it difficult to handle.

RT: Do you personally support CPI (Maoists)?

Dhawale: At that time (early 1990s)…yes. I did. You see, it was not a banned organizaton then. There was nothing illegal to associate with an organization that was legally constituted. Ever since it was banned, I have not participated in anyactivities. In fact, at the time of my arrest, I even told the police about my past work. I never hid anything from the police.
It is funny how the state machinery works. They use old pictures to pin us down. I must have met R R Patil some four-five times in his cabin. Will that mean I am government’s person. It is bizarre.

RT: Your books have supported naxal violence. Also, you have spoken of Naxalism as the only alternative.

Dhawale: I along with several other activists have been very active on the anti-caste front. It is not just the savarnas who are responsible for caste atrocities, but the State, too. I, through my writings have tried to expose the state. It caused a lot of restlesness. Talking about naxal movement, i have no qualms in saying I support it. I have several books in support of the naxals.. I have openly said so in the past and will continue to say so.

RT: Most arrests happened during the UPA government’s tenure. You are returning to face the NDA front. What is the feeling?

Dhawale: (Laughs). Achche din aa gaye hain. They are two sides of the same coin. Things will not be any different. Not that congress was pro-people and worked for its downtrodden and needy. It will continue to remain just as bad. Just days after getting elected, a man was burnt at Gondia. BJP man is allegedly involved in it. Fascism in the Congress’ period was covert. It will be overt now. Economic policies will continue to exclude the ‘antim vyakti’. Ambanis will continue to flourish, the poor will continue to get poorer..

RT: And what about the left front?

Dhawale: How different are they? What have they done for the people? Who got SEZs approved in parliament, what was their role during Nandigram and Singur agitations?

I am only glad they have finally been thrown out. This was bound to happen.

RT: In most Naxal cases, while the State goes overboard in booking and arresting people, similar approach is not seen in court. In almost all cases the police has failed in proving the cases. Be it Arun Ferreira’s case or Vernon Gonsalves’ case, most cases fell apart. However, almost every one spent five-six years behind bars.

Dhawale: Yes, in past most cases did end up in acquittal. But now the State with all its might is fighting the cases. They have started appointing special public prosecutors in cases where UAPA charges are applied. In my case too, a special public prosecutor appeared.

RT: How was the judiciary’s role in your case?

Dhawale: I applied for bail four times before the sessions court and three times before the HC. Several false claims were made by the police and the court bought it each time and rejected my bail application. The case was expedited by the HC and was to be concluded in three months, but it took over three years.

RT: An independent court proceeding is rare.

Dhawale: On the day of my judgement they engaged C-60 commandos all around the court. Four SDOs were put on the job. They had cordoned off entire court premises. Such high level pressure was put on the judge. The police made it look like a dreaded criminal was ferried to the court and high- level security was a must. Four Tata sumos, C-60 commandos deployed. Court was not allowed to work freely.

RT: What were the grounds given for your acquittal?

Dhawale: It is on a very technical ground. Norms as laid down under UAPA were not met. State sanctions, police mishandling of my case, coupled with lack of evidence led to my acquittal.

RT: How many youth are inside Nagpur jail, booked for Naxal activities?

Dhawale: There were some 60-65 of them when I was arrested- all Adivasi and Dalit boys and girls. After every naxal attack, young boys and girls get picked up and dumped in the jail.

RT: How are their cases handled, any legal recourse available for them?

Dhawale: It is a joke. No legal support is available. Cases get committed to the Sessions court, but these boys and girls are never taken to the court. The police make use of Video conference link for their production, all in the name of security. Their families are so poor that it is beyond their capacity to even travel to Nagpur to meet their children. No jail mulakat, no legal aid, these boys and girls are rotting in the jail. It is a mockery of the justice system.

RT: What cases are these?

Dhawale: Some are booked under UAPA, some for murder, attempt to murder. Everytime police is attacked in an armed retaliation by the Naxals, villagers are picked up. At the time of my release 44 youths- 36 boys and 8 girls were behind bars.

RT: What roles do you see Ambedkarities playing in the present political scenario?

Dhawale: Most Dalit parties are divorced from Ambedkar’s principles. One can not invoke Ambedkar and claim that he/she is an Ambedkarite. People like Udit Raj and Ram Vilas Paswan have been wooed by BJP. Ramdas Athawale, a panther from this State has been completely saffronised. It is a tough scene to expect any thing out of these leaders.

When was the last time that the so-called Ambedkarities came together. It took one Ramabai incident of 1997 to have people come under one platform and agitate. And then again everything went silent until 2006 when the Khairlanji incident happened. We have to be woken up from our deep slumber every now and then. Now there is some noise made after Nitin Aage’s killing.

The principled movement of the old days is scarce. Now it is all about being in power. So even if in the process you are betraying your own people, it does not matter. It is quiet gloomy. Prakash Ambedkar, a few years ago wrote a book on how the Ambedkar movement had died long ago. I completely agree with this. If one has to move forward, it has to start all over again. The rot is beyond any repair.


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SC grants interim bail to Tarun Tejpal

May 19, 2014 18:18:42 IST

New Delhi  : The Supreme Court Monday granted three weeks’ interim bail to Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal so that he could perform last rites of his mother, who passed away in Goa Sunday.

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The apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice A.K. Sikri passed the orders granting Tejpal interim bail after holding the hearing on his plea in their chamber.

A former junior woman colleague last year accused Tejpal of rape during ThinkFest, a high-profile conference organised by the Tehelka founder in Goa.

The victim claimed she was sexually assaulted twice Nov 7 and 8.

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KKM Bail Application Rejected by Bombay High Court #WTFnews

freekkmAnand Patwardhan

On April 11,  Justice A.R. Joshi of the High Court of Bombay delivered a verbal order in the matter relating to the bail application of three cultural activists (poets and singers) of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). Shockingly Justice Joshi rejected the bail appeal of Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor.

It may be recalled that the KKM, a Dalit and working class group, was forced to go into hiding in 2011 after two of their members were arrested and tortured by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) and charged with collaborating with Naxalites. In 2012 after a film highlighting their music was released and a KKM Defence Committee was formed, the KKM began to feel that there was civil society support for their work. When in January 2013 Justice Thipsay of the Bombay High Court granted bail to the two arrested KKM activists (Deepak Dengle and Siddharth Bhonsle) it gave courage to the other KKM members who due to police repression were living in hiding. Finally Sheetal Sathe , Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor decided to submit themselves to the due process of law. They did a peaceful Satyagraha by singing songs outside the State Assembly and were duly arrested. While Sheetal was granted bail in July 2013, Sachin, Sagar and Ramesh have remained in jail for a year.

Interestingly the charges against Sheetal are exactly the same as those against the three who were denied bail today. Their crime ? Writing and singing songs against poverty, inequality, gender injustice, environmental degradation, corruption, superstition. They voluntarily submitted to the due process of law and showed faith in democracy. Even the ATS has not charged them with committing violence or possessing weapons or contraband. Their weapons are only their passionate songs pleading for justice.

Today as the country is caught in the throes of an election where communal violence and rhetoric have become the norm, the sane and rational voices of Sachin, Sagar and Ramesh must multiply rather than be unjustly locked behind bars.

Note: The written order in this case is not yet available but the brief oral order read by Justice Joshi while rejecting the bail plea was merely that these applicants are charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), as if that in itself is tantamount to guilt! One wonders if the learned bench is trying to say that it is useless for anyone charged under UAPA to try to get justice in court.

Advocates Mihir Desai and Vijay Hiremath who appeared pro bono for the KKM put up a lucid and passionate defence stressing that their clients were young persons who had already lost years of their life in hiding and in jail merely for the crime of being poor and singing songs for justice.

The KKM Defence Committee will now approach the Supreme Court of India.


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SC rejects anticipatory bail to Teesta, but stays arrest till April #WTFnews

The couple had approached the apex court against the order of the Bombay High Court which had given them only interim protection for four weeks.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant anticipatory bail to social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand but extended interim protection from arrest till March end in a case lodged against them in Ahmedabad for alleged embezzlement of funds.

The couple had approached the apex court against the January 31, 2014 order of the Bombay High Court which had given them only interim protection for four weeks till February 28, 2014 with a direction to approach the Gujarat High Court for anticipatory bail.

Ms. Setalvad and her husband have been booked by the Crime Branch of Gujarat Police on the charges of cheating, breach of trust under the IT Act, in a matter related to construction of “Museum of resistance” in Gulbarg society in Ahmedabad which was hit by communal riots in 2002.

“We are not inclined to interfere with the order of the Bombay High Court. However, we extend the interim protection from February 28 to March 31. The petitioners can file petition in Gujarat High Court for anticipatory bail which has to be heard independently without being influenced by the observation made by the Bombay High Court,” a bench comprising justices S.J Mukhopadhaya and Kurian Joseph said.

The bench said it will be open for the Bombay High Court to go into the question of law that whether anticipatory bail can be entertained in the cases registered in different state.


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PRESS RELEASE- Amnesty India welcomes bail for Prisoners of Conscience Soni Sori and Lingaram



7 February 2014

India: Amnesty India welcomes bail for Prisoners of Conscience Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi

The Supreme Court’s ruling to grant bail to Prisoners of Conscience Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi who were under detention for over two years on false charges is a promising development, Amnesty International India said today.

The rights organisation also called upon the Government of Chhattisgarh to take note of this verdict and immediately and unconditionally drop all remaining charges against the two Adivasi activists.

The Supreme Court granted bail to the duo more than two years after they were arrested on what Amnesty considers are false charges levelled against them for criticizing the human rights violations of security forces in Chhattisgarh.

“This is a very encouraging development and we welcome the SupremeCourt’s verdict which gives hope for the human rights movement in Chhattisgarh,” said Shashikumar Velath, ProgrammesDirector at Amnesty International India.

“Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi were kept under detention merely tosilence their struggle for accountability and justice in Chhattisgarh.”

Soni Sori has been in detention since October 2011 and Lingaram Kodopi since September 2011. Soni Sori has been acquitted in five cases filed against her. Lingaram Kodopi has been acquitted in one of two cases filedagainst him.

One of the pending cases against both involves charges that they had acted as couriers and transferred funds from a corporate mining firm, Essar, to armed Maoists as “protection money” in September 2011 to ensure the firms unhindered operations.

On 7 July 2013, the Chhattisgarh High Court denied bail to Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi on the grounds of the “nature of allegation, quality of evidence and the seriousness of the offence.” A general manager at an Essar steel plant and a contractor for Essar, also arrested in the case and facing the same charges were released on bail on January 2012 and February 2012 respectively.

“The Chhattisgarh authorities should take a cue from this verdict and immediately correct the historic wrongs committed against these two Prisoners of Conscience by dropping all other charges,” Shashikumar said.

“This emblematic case should also serve as a reminder of the hundreds of other human rights violations that have been carried out in Chhattisgarh in the garb of fighting Maoist insurgency. The state and its agencies should revisit their policies in tackling dissent and human rights accountability.”

Soni Sori has alleged that she was tortured while she was in policecustody on 8 and 9 October 2011. In letters written to the Supreme Court, she said that police officials had stripped and sexually assaulted her and given her electric shocks. On 29 October 2011, a government hospital examined her under court order, and reported that two stones had been inserted in her vagina and one in her rectum, and that she had annular tears in her spine.

The senior police official who Soni Sori said had ordered and supervised her torture was conferred a gallantry award by the President of India in January 2012.

On 12 November 2013, the Supreme Court had granted the duo interim bail till their bail hearing was completed. In September 2013, Amnesty International India had submitted a petition supported by over 10,000 people to Chief Minister Raman Singh seeking the immediate and unconditional release of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

Background Information

Soni Sori, a 36 year old school-teacher and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi, a 26-year old journalist, were critical of human rights violations committed both by security forces and armed Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

In April 2010, at a public hearing in Delhi, Lingaram Kodopi detailed violations committed by security forces against Adivasis in Chhattisgarh, following which the state police announced that he was the prime suspect in an armed Maoist attack on a local Congress party leader’s residence.

In March 2011, Lingaram Kodopi also highlighted the killing of threeAdivasis by security forces during a confrontation in three villages. During the attack, two persons went missing and at least five women were sexually assaulted. Lingaram Kodopi was eventually arrested in September 2011 on false charges of aiding armed Maoists.

Soni Sori’s huband, Anil Futane, was arrested in 2011 for allegedlyplanning and executing an attack on a local Congress party leader. He was acquitted on 1 May 2013, after spending three years in jail, during which time he was allegedly tortured. He died on 2 August 2013. Soni Sori was denied temporary release on bail to perform her husband’s last rites.

Soni Sori has been acquitted in five cases against her, and LingaramKodopi in one of the two cases against him.

In 2012, Sori was acquitted in two cases in which she was accused ofattacking a police station in Kuakonda and blowing up a government office in Kuakonda in 2010.

In February 2013, a trial court acquitted her of being involved in anattack on a police team near an Essar plant in Kirandul, and of being part of a Maoist armed group team which attempted to blow up trucks belonging to Essar.

In early May 2013, a trial court acquitted Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopiand 15 other persons accused of conspiring and participating in the attack against a local Congress party leader at Nakulnar in Chhattisgarh in July 2010.

In late May, another court granted Soni Sori bail in a case in whichpolice claim she had participated in the torching of vehicles in Nerli Ghat in September 2010.

A number of social and political activists and human rights defenders in Chhattisgarh have faced false charges and imprisonment for highlighting the human rights situation in the state. Among them are Binayak Sen of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and Kartam Joga, an Adivasi leader of the Communist Party of India, both declared as Prisoners of Conscience by AmnestyInternational.

Binayak Sen spent more than two years in prison and was released on bail by India’s Supreme Court in April 2011 afte

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#India – This isn’t bail, we are still living in jail, ‘exiled’ in Delhi- says Soni Sori

Ashutosh Bhardwaj : Newdelhi | Thu Dec 26 2013

Maoist exile
Soni Sori with nephew Lingaram Kodapi in Delhi. IE

Away from their forested home in Dantewada, two alleged Maoists are living in exile in a crowded lane in Delhi. Barred from entering their “motherland” Chhattisgarh, tribal teacher Soni Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodapi, both accused in the Essar-Maoists payoffs case, spend their days meeting activists, students and reading Marx among other things.

“If you say Lal Salaam or use the word Marx in Chhattisgarh, you will be termed a Naxal and arrested immediately. In Delhi many people say Lal Salaam,” says Sori, 37.

“I am surprised that Marx is taught in colleges here. Arrest all these students,” adds Kodapi, 25.

In Chhattisgarh, Marx is considered to constitute Maoist literature — sufficient evidence for arrest under the stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.

After spending over two years in jail, the duo were released after being granted interim bail by the Supreme Court last month. But they were prohibited from entering Chhattisgarh.

“My tragedy is not the jail term. I could have lived with that. Tribals in my region (Bastar) are usually put in jail for no reason. The bigger tragedy is that I lost my motherland. Puri duniya men badnaam ho gayi main (I have been dishonoured in the whole world),” says Sori.

Her two daughters and a son live with her brother in Dantewada. “I cannot go back to my children. Their childhood has been destroyed,” she adds. After being released on bail, Sori was given little time to even meet her children, as she and Kodapi had to leave Chhattisgarh within 24 hours. They now live in the office of their lawyer, Colin Gonsalves. Always accompanied by a guard, they have to report to the nearest police station every week.

“Policemen in Delhi don’t know our case, they taunt us saying that we are notorious Naxals. They say `tumhen chhorna nahi chahiye tha. Supreme Court ne tum par meharbani kar di (you should not have been released. The Supreme Court did you a favour),” says Kodapi.

“It’s not bail. We are still living in a jail,” adds Sori.

These days, Kodapi is watching Steven Soderbergh’s Che, a gift from a British friend. He reads English books and quotes Nelson Mandela.

“The government of India has not done justice to tribals. We never asked for anything. We only want liberation, not reservations. My Constitution gives me the right to equality,” he says.

The duo have been acquitted in all other cases except the Essar-Maoists payoff case. Sori was in jail when her mother died last year. Her husband and co-accused Anil Futane reportedly succumbed to injuries he sustained in jail days after he was acquitted in August this year.

“They granted bail to the Essar general manager and B K Lala (Essar’s contractor), but denied it to us. If the high court had given me bail, I could have gone back to live in my village, but now I have been evicted, without a home,” says Sori.

Essar is alleged to have paid “protection money” to Maoists, and Sori and Kodapi are alleged to have acted as conduits.

Kodapi blames both the security forces and the Maoists. He says while the former wanted him to become a special police officer (SPO), the Maoists also wanted him to join their ranks. He refused both offers, he says.

“Maoists force tribal youths to join them. Several years ago, Badru (a Maoist commander) called me and asked me to fight against the police. I refused. Now, Badru is the police’s man,” he says.

He says the trial has steeled his resolve and “faith in the Constitution and non-violence”. “They have pitted me against myself. When they arrested me, I asked them to kill me, or else I will defeat them. Even if you keep me in jail for 20 years, I will come out and defeat you,” he says.

Read more here-–jail-says-soni-sori–exiled–in-delhi/1211809/

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="" target="_blank"> #India – Soni Sori of #Chhattisgarh granted bail by Supreme Court #greatnews #HURAAAAH
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="" target="_blank"> #India – Tribal teacher Soni Sori – and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi get interim Bail


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Arctic 30 protesters and Pussy Riot members set to walk free #Goodnews

Russia passes amnesty law with amendment extending scope to include those arrested on Greenpeace ship
Pussy Riot in trial

Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who could be released as early as Thursday if the amnesty law is passed. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

The Greenpeace “Arctic 30″ could be home by Christmas, and the two jailed members of the punk group Pussy Riot should be released from jail in the coming days, after a wide-ranging amnesty law was passed by the Russian parliamenton Wednesday .

The Pussy Riot pair are serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, while the Greenpeace activists are charged with hooliganism and are currently on bail awaiting trial in St Petersburg.

The amnesty, backed by Russia‘s president, Vladimir Putin, is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Russia’s constitution. It mainly concerns first-time offenders, minors and women with small children.

An amendment on Wednesday extended the amnesty to suspects in cases of hooliganism, which includes the Arctic 30, who were arrested aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in September.

They were bailed by courts in St Petersburg last month but still faced trial and potential jail sentences of up to seven years.

Iain Rogers, Greenpeace activist, in a cage in courtIain Rogers, one of the Greenpeace activists, in a cage at a bail hearing in Murmansk in October. Photograph: Igor Podgorny/Greenpeace/SWNS.comThe Greenpeace activists expressed relief, though Arctic Sunrise captain Peter Willcox said: “There is no amnesty for the Arctic.”

He added: “I might soon be going home to my family, but I should never have been charged and jailed in the first place.”

Kieron Bryan, a freelance journalist and one of six Britons among the 30 Greenpeace detainees, said that with all the uncertainty about whether or not they would be included in the amnesty, the past week had been hard to cope with: “We’ve all been feeling the emotional strain this week,” he said from St Petersburg.

“We’d heard rumours about the possibility of this at every stage of the process, but there have been so many rumours and false hopes that I never really believed it. For every positive thing that’s happened there has been a setback, and a feeling that we might be here for a very long time and go to jail.”

Greenpeace communications officer Alexandra Harris said: “We are relieved we are coming home but we don’t know when. It is quite a strange feeling.

“Our amnesty will be signed off tomorrow and then the investigators [in the case] will have to approve it and then we have to wait for visas. It could take weeks or we could be home for the weekend. That would be amazing if we could be home for Christmas.”

Harris, who works for Greenpeace in Australia, said she was looking forward to spending time with her family in Devon and a long walk on Dartmoor.

 Mikhail KhodorkovskyMikhail Khodorkovsky reads documents behind a glass wall during a court session in Moscow in June 2010. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/ReutersShe added: “It’s strange that we are being forgiven for a crime we didn’t commit, and I keep thinking about my Russian friends. I always imagined we’d all be together in this moment and let go under the same circumstances. We’ve been a group this whole time and I thought we would be sharing this moment – but the amnesty doesn’t mean the same for all of us.”

The Duma, Russia’s parliament, voted 446-0 in favour of the bill in its third and final reading on Wednesday . Once it is printed in the state newspaper, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, probably on Thursday , it will then become law.


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#India – 500 Nagpur Jail undertrials, denied bail seek NHRC intervention

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Mumbai, Nov 24, 2013, DHNS:

Around 500 undertrials, including 45 women political prisoners languishing in the Nagpur Central Jail, have written a memorandum to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) stating that they were being deliberately denied their right to bail.

The signed letter sent to the NHRC on Saturday, citing Supreme Court rulings, states that the apex court has time and again emphasised on the right of the undertrial to be granted bail in cases wherein it is certain that the undertrial will not be jumping the bail or that he or she belongs to a deprived and lower economic class.

However, the reality practised in lower courts as well as by public prosecutors who refuse to budge from their stand and even go to the extent of using all kind of legalese to keep political prisoners inside jail, is contrary to the very essence of justice which judiciary proclaims impart, the letter states.


The inmates of Nagpur Jail urged NHRC to look into the matter as the denial of bail being practised not just in the state but across the country is tantamount to severe human rights violation.

Bandh call in Vidarbha

Banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), for the first time, called for a bandh across Vidarbha last week to highlight the state’s failure in extending assistance to agriculturists in eastern Maharashtra.

Pointing at the excess rain which ravaged Vidarbha this year,  the rebels in a press release issued from Nagpur, stated that in the last four months 200 farmers took their lives to escape the misery.

The reports indicate that the devastation hit nearly 18 lakh hectare farmland and 1.5 lakh houses.The statement apart from bringing to fore the plight of farmers in the region, slammed government for arresting leaders voicing tribal and farmers issues in the region.

The bandh called by CPI -Maoist in Vidarbha was seen to have varying degrees of impact with far-eastern regions like Gadchiroli witnessing a total shut-down; the demands included waiving off loans and interests; additional loans for farmers and other facilities for the families.

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#India – Soni Sori, Tribal Teacher from Chhattsigarh speaks

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Soni Sori urges activists and groups to continue their fight for justice for people like her, who continue to languish in jails.

After their release from the Jagdalpur jail, Soni Sori and Linga Kodopi went to the Ma Danteshwari Temple and then onto their villages Palnar and Sameli respectively.

Soni was greeted by her three children, her father and the rest of her family.

Soon the entire village came by to see her.

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  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="" target="_blank"> #India – Tribal teacher Soni Sori – and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi get interim Bail


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