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.