Guest post. BACHCHA PRASAD SINGH who was recently released from Patiala Central Jail, interviewed by SHAILZA SHARMA
Bachcha Prasad Singh was released from Patiala Central Jail on May 31, 2016 after being kept in illegal judicial custody for an extra three days. In a time when all verification processes are possible online, he was dragged by police officials on a 32 hour road journey from Patiala to Kanpur, for verification of his identity and pending cases. When the Kanpur court and jail authorities refused to take him in custody since he had been granted bail in the FIR registered at Kanpur, the jail authorities could not do much and he was again taken back to Patiala. There were murmurs among the police officials ‘isko Punjab se nahin chhodna’ (He should not be released from Punjab). Only when a habeas corpus was filed in Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court by the Senior Advocate R.S. Bains, the Patiala jail authorities were compelled to release Bachcha Prasad. Harassment at the hands of the Patiala jail authorities was his fate on the day of his release as well, his barrack, his belongings and his bags, which were already in custody of the jail authorities were stripped and searched and he was thoroughly humiliated.
Knowing that it is the modus operandi of the State to re-arrest political prisoners, immediately upon their release on false pretexts, it was the apprehension of his lawyers that the State was creating circumstances which could lead to his re-arrest. However, it is a testament to the dedication and life of the 57 year old revolutionary who after more than 6 years of imprisonment, considered this episode in his life nothing but a brief pause. Continue reading Alleged Maoist on His Release From Prison and Other Matters: Interviewed by Shailza Sharma→
Guest Post : Sahmat statement on intimidation and threats to scholars and activists who investigated human rights abuses in Chhattisgarh
We strongly condemn the Chhattisgarh government and its police force for using intimidation and threats of a criminal case against academics and political activists investigating human rights abuses in the southern parts of the state, especially Bastar and Dantewada. A fact finding team consisting of Prof. Archana Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Prof. Nandini Sundar, Delhi University (DU) and Vineet Tiwari, researcher at CPI’s Joshi-Adhikari Institute recently visited the area for 5 days between 12-16 May 2016. They were accompanied by Sanjay Parate, Chhattisgarh State Secretary CPI-M.
After the visit the team was accused of spreading dissent against security agencies and supporting the ’Maoists’. The statement by the state home minister Ram Sewak Paikra in the Times of India reportedly calling the three reputed Delhi based academicians ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘Maoist’ is part of a recent and explicit trend to stifle the freedom of expression and movement through a state crackdown on political dissent. The threat of an FIR and further harassment looms large. The local contacts, escorts and villagers who hosted the team are being harassed and intimidated by the Police in order to fabricate evidence and ensure that they help no other study team in the future.
The Press Release by the team clearly indicts both the Chhattisgarh state and Maoist violence and reveals how ordinary Adivasis, struggling for a dignified existence and protesting against the violation of basic rights have little space to voice genuine grievances.
This is the latest in a long line of actions to criminalize dissent, free expression and movement, and stifle fair reportage of events which have become hallmarks of the Chhattisgarh government.
We appeal to all democrats to condemn this brazen attempt at intimidation by the State and its Security Agencies.
Yesterday, the 9th of May, one day after the court granted what must be the fastest bail and suspension of sentence in the history of India to India’s favourite Dabangg, a diminutive woman stood under the blazing Delhi sun and spoke of her husband who had been in jail for the past one year. In May 2014, lecturer in English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University, G. N Saibaba was returning home after evaluating answer scripts when he was abducted by unknown men, who later identified themselves as Maharashtra Police.
Saibaba was not produced before a magistrate in Delhi but taken directly to Aheri, a small town in Maharashtra and then to Nagpur, to be put in solitary confinement in the famous anda cell of Nagpur jail. Let’s call this cell famous instead of the usual epithet “notorious” because all over the country, children are probably playing with each other right now saying to each other, “saale main tujhe anda cell mein daal doonga“, while their parents look on indulgently, congratulating themselves on the kid’s excellent G.K.
Given the need to show ‘results’ in Chhattisgarh, the police are pulling some unlikely rabbits out of still stranger hats. The latest is Lingaram Kodopi, tipped by the police to be “Azad’s successor”, but as Jefferson Airplane reminds , If you go chasing rabbits…
The following piece appeared in The Hindu under the joint by-line of Aman Sethi and Smita Gupta.
In a press conference on Sunday, S.R.P Kalluri, Senior Superintendent of Police of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, identified the prime suspect behind the July 6 attack on the house of Congress worker and civil contractor Avdesh Singh Gautam. According to a press release circulated by the Chhattisgarh police, “this attack was masterminded by Lingaram Kodopi, a resident of Sameli village.”
“In the last few months, Kodopi had received training in terrorist techniques in Delhi and Gujarat,” the release stated, claiming that Lingaram was “in touch” with writer Arundhati Roy, activist Medha Patkar and Nandini Sundar, a sociology professor at the Delhi School of Economics. The police also said that Kodopi was tipped to succeed Communist Party of India (Maoist) central spokesperson Azad, after the latter was killed by the Andhra Pradesh Police on July 2 this year.
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, USA, UK, Spain, the Russian Federation, to name a few, are a testimony to the cruel attacks on civilians and other human rights abuses in the recent past by non-state armed groups, including terrorist groups. They are showing utter disdain for the lives of civilians and others, continuing a pattern of serious crimes and crimes against humanity. They fail to abide by even the most basic standards of humanitarian law. The attacks and other abuses by armed groups are so frequent and the security situation so grave, that it is impossible to calculate with any confidence the true toll upon the civilian population, let alone the long term consequences that so many people inevitably suffer.
In the last one year, I have often found myself going back to a conversation I had had with a Maoist ideologue. As it happened, it was he who started interrogating me about my stand on violence. ‘So, you have become a Gandhian?’ he demanded. I must confess I was a bit taken aback, not quite able to figure out the context of this poser. ‘What do you mean by Gandhian’, I kind of mumbled. Pat came his reply: ‘Well you have been making some noises lately about Maoist violence, haven’t you?’ Suddenly it all became clear. Through this ridicule, he was trying to appeal to that part of me that still remained marxist – presumably now buried in some remote past – and to resurrect it against my ostensible ‘non-marxist’, ‘liberal’ present (for which ‘Gandhian’ was some kind of a short hand code). I found myself at a loss of words. Does a criticism of the mindless and nihilistic violence of the Maoists make one a Gandhian? Is there no space left between these two polar positions? The conversation did not go very far that day but has kept coming back to me ever since.