The term Dalit cannot die with one circular. It is an evolution of identity out of years of sufferance. No matter how hard the government tries to snap the associations of all suppressed classes, it will only emerge out louder, stronger and clearer.
The arrested human rights activists will not get a release from the benefit of ‘default bail’ and now will have to seek regular bail from the Court. The case arose out of the Bombay High Court’s order which held that the report as envisaged by the Section 43D of UAPA, 1967 did not comply with the law and therefore the extension granted for the filing of charge-sheet was held to be patently illegal. Resultantly, it paved way for the bail of the first set of five arrestees — the human rights activists Advocate Surendra P Gadling, journalist Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, JNU scholar Rona Wilson and former PMRDF fellow Mahesh Raut.
Judgment is to be pronounced tomorrow, February 13, 2019, by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Supreme Court, which will pronounce judgment on the appeal file by Maharashtra government against the Bombay High Court decision refusing the cops a 90-day extension to file a chargesheet against the Bhima Koregaon arrestees, including Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Professor Shoma Sen and Sudhir Dhawale.
Upon completion of the remand time, on February 11, after hearing both the sides, and noting that there was no progress shown in investigation after huge time giving in police remand with respect to the crime in question, the court directed to transport both Gadling and Rao forthwith to Yerwada jail. However, the court did not take any action on the issue of keeping the two in solitary confinement, even though it was completely unnecessary.
To defend the rights of the imprisoned and to prevent further illegal detentions, we, a group of social justice activists and scholars, came together and formed an association called “Fresh Perspectives, USA.” We have reached out to public intellectuals, critical thinkers and scholars outside India to collect their voice condemning those illegal arrests and the violation of human rights in India. We were amazed by the response from scholars around the world. Some of the signatories are the most influential thinkers of late 20th and 21st Century. Here’s our public statement.
While there are many lapses, the malafide intentions of the police machinery at the behest of their political masters are writ large. Justice D Y Chandrachud was not at all mistaken to call Maharashtra police "untrustworthy" in this landmark dissenting judgment in the Bhima-Koregaon case.
On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, noted journalists P. Sainath and Niranjan Takle and noted author Urmila Pawar and activists from Mumbai, Jatin Desai and Feroze Mithirborewala condemned the police action against Prof. Anand Teltumbde and urged people to speak up against the undemocratic practices of the current government, which Mr Sainath said was criminalising dissent.
While Anand Teltumbde has protection order till February 11, 2019, the arrest made by the Pune police was illegal and was in gross violation of Supreme Court order, the Special Judge added. The Pune police are guilty of contempt of court for disdaining the order of the apex court, the Special Judge noted.
The attack on Dr. Teltumbde is only the latest in an ongoing series of attacks on human rights lawyers, civil rights activists and scholars engineered by the Right-wing Hindu nationalist party ruling at the Centre and the state. Since June 2018, nine activists have been imprisoned on similar fabricated charges as Dr. Teltumbde. The arrested are Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen and Sudhir Dhawale. Two others, Gautam Navlakha and Stan Swamy are also under threat of arrest in the same case.
Gadchiroli police in the late hours of January 30, 2019, took custody of noted human rights lawyer and Nagpur-based Dalit rights activist Surendra Gadling and activist-poet-writer P Varvara Rao from Pune’s Yerwada Jail authorities. The Police made the arrests in connection with another alleged case of involvement of Gadling and Rao in so-called “unlawful activity” related to the Surjagadh case of 2016. With these arrests, the apprehensions of “ever-greening” of charges on the civil rights activities becoming a reality.
All the activists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case are left-leaning lawyers, academics and organic intellectuals who are extremely popular among the Dalit-Bahujan communities in Maharashtra and also in other states, because of the stellar work they have been doing over the years. The two sets of arrests — on June 6, 2018 and on August 28, 2018 — were based on one FIR filed on January 8, 2018. Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson as well as Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Vara Vara Rao, were arrested, while attempts to arrest Anand Teltumbde didn't succeed, and Gautam Navlakha was granted relief by Delhi High Court. While a 5000-page chargesheet has been filed, the glaring inconsistencies in the document will go down as a huge a blot on Indian democracy.
When governments, both central and state, are not tolerating genuine criticism of governmental actions, and the courts are not doing much to protect the freedom of expression, a recent judgment by the Kerala High Court introduces a fresh breeze in an otherwise tense environment, where the voices of only some kinds of majorities are being entertained, while voices of minorities are being suppressed. Also, the judgment goes a long away in furthering the labour rights of employees, to express their opinion, even if it amounts to criticism of their employer or superiors.