Daily Archives: 07/06/2018

Chad: Tchad : un gouverneur destitué pour avoir commandité l’agression d’un avocat

le 7 juin, 2018

Tchad : la profession judiciaire maintient sa grève

Le gouverneur du Logone Oriental a été limogé par décret présidentiel en raison de son rôle actif dans une sombre affaire judiciaire


Adam Nouki Charfadine – qui dirige la province du Logone Oriental, dans le sud du Tchad – a largement outrepassé les pouvoirs inhérents à sa fonction, c’est un euphémisme.

Le 22 mai dernier, l’intéressé s’est en effet rendu coupable d’avoir ordonné à la gendarmerie de la ville de Doba d’attaquer la voiture d’un avocat qui transportait ses trois clients fraîchement relaxés. Les forces de l’ordre n’ont d’ailleurs pas hésité à tirer sur le véhicule, relaie VOA Afrique.

Dans la foulée, cette agression a eu un énorme retentissement dans l’ensemble du pays, puisque magistrats et avocats ont immédiatement lancé de concert un mouvement de grève. Face à ce blocus du troisième pouvoir, les autorités tchadiennes ont donc opté hier pour une solution d’apaisement en mutant le gouverneur « à d’autres fonctions ».






India: Legal Fraternity Protests Arrest of Dalit Activists, Say Diversionary Tactics at Play

June 6, 2018

Calling the arrests in a case related to the Bhima Koregaon violence a direct assault on civil liberties, over 35 civil rights organisations protested against the police action in New Delhi.

Legal Fraternity Protests Arrest of Dalit Activists, Say Diversionary Tactics at Play


Following the arrest of five activists from across three cities in a case related to the Bhima Koregaon violence earlier this year, over 35 civil rights organisations protested against the police action in the capital.

Prominent lawyer at the Nagpur high court Surendra Gadling; Shoma Sen, professor of English at Nagpur University; Sudhir Dhawale, Marathi poet and editor of Mumbai-based Vidrohi magazine; New Delhi-based Rona Wilson of a civil rights group called the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP); and Mahesh Raut, an anti-displacement activist who has been recently supporting the people’s movement against indiscriminate mining in Surjagarh, Gadchiroli (Maharashtra), were arrested on June 6 in different cities as part of a joint police operation spearheaded by the Pune police.

The police has claimed that the arrested people are “urban Naxals” and that Maoists were behind the Bhima Koregaon agitation in which one Dalit youth was killed and thousands were injured. The event had seen large participation of Dalit ideologues and civil rights activists.

However, the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), which led the Thursday protests, alleged that the joint police action against the five people was a direct assault on civil liberties and was intended to deflect attention from the cases against the two main accused – well-known Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote – in the case.

Speaking for the IAPL at a press conference, advocate Sudha Bharadwaj said, “Gadling, who is the general secretary of the IAPL, has experience of over 25 years in the field of criminal and civil litigation in the lower courts and high court of Maharashtra. He has been representing the most oppressed and marginalised in courts. He has been fighting the cases of people victimised in Khairlanji’s anti-Dalit violence, Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar police firing case and the Manorama Kamble murder case. Most recently, he was also representing Delhi university professor G.N. Saibaba (who was arrested for his alleged links with Maoists).”


















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Citizens gather to protest the arrest of five prominent human rights activists.

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India: Lawyers protest arrest of Nagpur advocate Surendra Gadling

June 7, 2018

Pune police raided Adv. Surendra Gadling residence, believe to be related to Bhima-Koregaon violence case.


Mr. Gadling has been arrested in relation with the violence at Bhima Koregaon near Pune when Dalits congregated to celebrate the British victory over Peshwas with the help of Mahar soldiers.

Lawyers from the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers have expressed their concern over the arrest of advocate Surendra Gadling from his house in Nagpur, alleging an attack on lawyers who are fighting cases of marginalised people.

Mr. Gadling has been arrested in relation with the violence at Bhima Koregaon near Pune when Dalits congregated to celebrate the British victory over Peshwas with the help of Mahar soldiers.

Addressing the media here on Thursday, IAPL vice-president Sudha Bharadwaj said that the sudden arrest was part of a pattern where “people’s lawyers” are being targeted, in violation of the widely-held norm that “being a lawyer of a political prisoner is not a crime”.

A release by the IAPL said that this is part of a larger pattern: advocates Upendra Nayak of Odisha, Murugan of Tamil Nadu and Satyendra Chaubey of Chhattisgarh “have all been implicated in the cases of their own clients, which is absolutely unacceptable as per United Nations principles on the role of lawyers”.










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Press Release : 7th June 2018

Today, Indian Association of Peoples Lawyers (IAPL) organised a press conference at the Press Club of India in New Delhi in relation to the recent arrests of Advocate Surendra Gadling, Prof. Shoma SenSudhir DhawaleRona Wilson and Mahesh Raut. The arrests took place on the 6th June, 2018, by Pune police at the early Hours of morning. The conference was held at Press Club of India, Delhi and Adv. Nitya Ramakrishna, Supreme Court of India, Adv. Ravikiran Jain, National President, PUCL, Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj, Vice-President , IAPL, Adv. ND Pancholi (Delhi PUCL), & Adv. Poonam, Secretary (Legal wing), Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, Delhi addressed the press.

These arrests have ostensibly taken place in connection with an FIR registered in January 2018 alleging that dalits had been incited to violence. Whereas actually violence had been incited and unleashed on the dalits by Samabhji Bhinde, leader of Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan and Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi, in response to the dalit assertion during Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan. Milind Ekbote was arrested for few days and later released on bail, where as Sambhaji Bhinde is yet to be arrested. However, the above named democratic rights activists, professors and lawyers were arrested without any mention in the original FIR.

Adv. Sudha Bhardwaj, condemning the arrest of Adv. Surendra Gadling, National Secretary, Indian Association of Peoples Lawyers (IAPL), said The arrest of Advocate Surendra Gadling is another example of the intensifying attacks on Peoples Lawyers. Recently Advocate Upendra Nayak of Odisha, Advocate Murugan of Tamil Nadu, Advocate Satyendra Chaubey of Chhattisgarh have all been implicated in the cases of their own clients, which is absolutely unacceptable as per United Nations principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Advocate Surendra Gadling was an iconic example to many dalit lawyers defending their oppressed communities. Particularly after the Maharashtra Bandh and the 2nd April Bharat Bandh by dalit communities all over India, hundreds of poor dalit youth have been picked up and incarcerated in patently false cases. Many groups of dalit lawyers started getting together to defend them, even free of cost. No doubt this must have caused great unease for the vindictive state apparatus. The bias of the State is all the more obvious when the leaders of Hindutva organisations named in many complaints and FIRs as instigators of the Bhima Koregaon violence Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide whose anticipatory bail applications have been refused by even the Supreme Court, still roam free.
Drawing the parallel from Advocate and founder of Bhim Army, Chandrashekar Azad Ravans arrest, Senior Advocate Ravikiran Jain, who represented him, spoke about unfair use of National Security Act (NSA) and other draconian laws, such as Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), which are used to incriminate activists, Dalit and other minority group for standing up to their rights and speaking up against their oppression. He also said that UAPA goes beyond the provisions that were used for mass arrest during emergency.

Addressing the press, Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, Supreme Court of India, condemned arbitrary arrest and draconian UAPA, which was used in arresting the above-named activists and lawyers. Adv. Ramakrishnan said, Under UAPA the central government has full freedom to declare any organization as a terrorist organization where membership per say makes it an offence. What the process has become now is merely the presence of Maoist literature has become enough to declare someone as a Maoist which is clearly against the provision of UAPA which already is a draconian act. Automatically a person is charge-sheeted as Maoists. In Binayak Sens case, Supreme Court had said, if someone is in possession of Gandhian literature, does that make that person Gandhian?

Advocate Poonam drawing the pattern across the country said, what is happening in Saharanpur, Nagpur and people who are fighting for the Dalits and minorities are being attacked. She also pointed out the dirty game of the prosecution, where Advocate Surendra Gadling was also stripped of his basic fundamental rights during arrest and he was produced at Judges residence and not in the open court, which is against the procedure laid down by the Honble Supreme Court of India. Advocate ND Pancholi remarked that in the Emergency people were detained under provisions of CrPC and MISA, but presently the situation is worse than that of an undeclared Emergency.

IAPL strongly condemns the arrest of Advocate Surendra Gadling and others and demands for their immediate release. IAPL also welcomes the support of all civil right organizations which have come together to demonstrate their support against the State which crushing all voice of dissent.

Sudha Bharadwaj
(Vice President, IAPL)

Ankit Grewal
(Joint Secretary, IAPL)



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Prompt initiative by district bar association in Nagpur. After today’s agitation, the Bar resolved to abstain from work tomorrow.


India/Kashmir: Lawyer Deepika Rajawat wins ‘Woman of the Year’ award

June 7, 2018

Lawyer Deepika Rajawat wins ‘Woman of the Year’ award

Lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat has won the most prestigious award of the year at the Indian Merchants Chamber of Commerce & Industry Ladies Wing – ‘Woman of the Year’.

The function will be held in Mumbai on June 11.

The Ladies Wing committee members have applauded Rajawat’s incredible achievements saying that she has shown grit, sincerity and dedication which is commendably inspirational.

Despite life threats from rightwing political parties, Rajawat fought against all odds in helping an eight-year-old girl of Kathua to get justice after she was raped and then murdered inside a temple by a gang of eight Hindus in Kathua during the first week of January this year.






India: Bhima-Koregaon violence: Arrested lawyer Surendra Gadling sent to 8-day police custody; Naxal links under probe

June 7, 2018

A day after advocate Surendra Gadling, one of the five people who allegedly incited hate in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, was arrested on Wednesday from Nagpur, Pune Joint Police Commissioner Ravindra Kadam said he was produced before the court and will be held in police custody for eight days.

The other four accused — activists Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut — will be produced before the court on Thursday afternoon.

Addressing a press conference, Kadam said the authorities were investigating Wilson and Gadling’s links with Naxals as well. “From Rona Wilson’s house, we recovered a pen drive, a hard disk and some other documents which were sent to forensics,” ANI quoted him as saying.

“Among the accused registered in the FIR on 8 January, some were previously booked for having links with Naxals,” Kadam informed, adding that the police raided houses of some of the other accused as well. Police teams raided the homes of other activists like Shoma Sen in Nagpur, and Mahesh Raut in Mumbai, IANS said.

On Tuesday, the aforementioned five people were arrested from Mumbai, Nagpur, and Delhi, by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence in January. All the five have been arrested for allegedly spreading controversial pamphlets and delivering hate speech under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.







https://www.nagpurtoday.in/used-naxalites-money-for-elgar-parishad-pune-police/06071305 (HINDI)



CoordinationofDemocraticRightsOrganisan (CDRO)

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Condemn the arrests of Adv Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawle, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut
CDRO strongly condemns the arrest by Maharashtra police in the early morning of June 6, 2018 of Adv. Surendra Gadling, senior advocate from Nagpur and General Secretary of India Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL), Prof. Shoma Sen, Head of Department of English, Nagpur University, Sudhir Dhawale, poet and Editor of Vidrohi from Mumbai, Rona Wilson, public relations secretary of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) from Delhi and Mahesh Raut, activist from Bharat Jan Andolan and former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow for Gadchiroli District.

These arrests and raids have been made based on the FIR registered on 8th January 2018 in Pune following the large scale protests held against the attacks on the Bhima-Koregaon commemorative function on 1st January 2018. These attacks were instigated by leaders of RSS-linked organizations, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote. The government of Maharashtra, instead of punishing the actual perpetrators and instigators of the Bhima-Koregaon violence has been trying to pin the blame on organizers of the commemorative function. The FIR, which was originally lodged u/s 153(A), 505(1b), 117 and 34 of the IPC later had sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) added to it. It is utterly condemnable that the Maharashtra government has charged activists and lawyers with UAPA under these trumped up charges while the actual perpetrators of the violence are roaming around freely.

It is also to be noted that a fact-finding organized by CDRO which recently visited Gadchiroli following the so-called encounter by the Maharashtra police C-60 special forces there that had resulted in the death of 40 people including Maoist combatants and adivasis found clear evidence of a fake encounter and cold blooded murder of the victims. Adv. Surendra Gadling, Prof. Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut played important roles in facilitating this fact-finding. Therefore it appears that the Maharashtra government has decided to arrest them, together with the other activists and lawyer, to exact vengeance for their role in exposing this mass murder by the Maharashtra police.

The Maharashtra government routinely uses the draconian UAPA to persecute dissenters and any persons who oppose the policies of the state. Currently Prof. Saibaba and five coaccused people are imprisoned in Maharashtra after being convicted in a sham trial under various sections of the UAPA. Now, Adv. Surendra Gadling who was their defence lawyer in that trial has been himself charged under UAPA. These actions clearly show the anti-democratic functioning of the Maharashtra government which has made the arresting of activists and human rights defenders and charging them under UAPA a routine affair.

CDRO strongly condemns this highly anti-democratic and repressive action of the Maharashtra government and the complete violation of all constitutional norms by the State and the Central governments and demands the immediate release of Advocate Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawle, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut.

On behalf of CDRO,
Asish Gupta,Coordinator.

Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR,Tamil Nadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep(Delhi).

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Popular Dalit Activist and editor of Vidrohi Magazine, Sudhir Dhawale has been arrested on 6th June 2018, Watch this interview he gave Sabranindia just after the Bhima Koregao incident.

Poland: Poland’s Top Judge Rings Alarm as Populist Makeover Takes Hold

June 7, 2018

As Italy’s new government prepares to challenge the European Union, Poland has a timely lesson for how quickly a particular brand of politics can change a country.


Poland is so far the biggest example of how the sort of populism pioneered by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has inspired anti-establishment firebrands across Europe. With the new Italian cabinet’s euroskeptic rhetoric and budget-busting spending plans spooking financial markets, the concern is those tendencies are spreading and will undermine the world’s biggest trading bloc.


Two-and-a-half years after winning power and setting out to drain the Polish swamp, the Law & Justice party has propelled a deep transformation of the nation’s 29-year democracy. The head of the country’s Supreme Court says that a “terrifying” new system is emerging, where a single party makes all the rules and puts pressure on independent judges.


“Poland is on a path to authoritarian rule and judges are being bullied,” Malgorzata Gersdorf, the chief justice, said in an interview last month. “What can still be salvaged from Poland’s democracy? I don’t know. Maybe the Supreme Court can be safe for some time.”

Unprecedented Conflict

The Supreme Court and Gersdorf herself are at the heart of Poland’s unprecedented conflict with the EU over what the 28-nation bloc’s executive says is an erosion of the rule of law. The government says its efforts to overhaul the judiciary are meant to modernize a justice system weighed down by red tape and the influence of what it calls a self-serving “caste” of communist-era judges.


The standoff has turned the country of 38 million people from a poster-child for eastern Europe’s transition to democracy and market economy to one of the EU’s biggest headaches, while raising the prospect of political sanctions and risking billions of euros in aid.






France/ECHR: Liberté de parole de l’avocat : une liberté à défendre !

le 7 juin, 2018

Image result for Alain Ottan

Alain Ottan, avocat au barreau de Montpellier, assurait devant la cour d’assises de Nîmes la défense des intérêts d’un homme dont le fils, Mourad, était décédé dans la nuit du 2 au 3 mars 2003, mortellement blessé par arme à feu, à l’issue d’une opération de gendarmerie.

Alors que deux gendarmes attendaient d’être jugés par le tribunal correctionnel pour faux témoignages, un troisième était poursuivi devant la cour d’assises pour violences volontaires ayant entraîné la mort sans intention de la donner.

D’emblée, les conditions d’exercice de la défense devant la cour avaient été difficiles, la présidente de la cour d’assises s’opposant à l’audition des deux gendarmes poursuivis pour faux témoignages dont le cas avait été dissocié.

L’acquittement du gendarme ne fut pas une surprise pour la partie civile et c’est dans ces conditions qu’à l’issue du verdict, répondant dans la salle d’audience à un journaliste qui demandait « vous vous attendiez tout de même à ce verdict ? sans commenter vraiment le verdict, vous le craigniez ? », Alain Ottan répondait spontanément « Oui, bien entendu. J’ai toujours su qu’il était possible, un jury blanc, exclusivement blanc, où les communautés ne sont pas toutes représentées, avec, on peut bien le dire, une accusation extrêmement molle, des débats dirigés d’une manière extrêmement orientée. La voie de l’acquittement était une voie royalement ouverte, ce n’est pas une surprise ».

Poursuivi à l’initiative du parquet général devant le conseil régional de discipline, sur la base d’une partie seulement de cette déclaration (la moitié de la phrase était abandonnée, les propos relatifs à une accusation extrêmement molle et des débats dirigés d’une manière extrêmement orientée, n’étaient pas retenus), il était relaxé par le conseil régional de discipline.

Sur appel du procureur général, la cour de Montpellier prononçait un avertissement et, malgré les conclusions de l’avocat général, la Cour de cassation rejetait le pourvoi1, validant le raisonnement de la cour d’appel, en rappelant « qu’en dehors du prétoire, l’avocat n’est pas protégé par l’immunité de l’article 41 de la loi du 29 juillet 1981 et que les propos tenus présentaient une connotation raciale, jetant l’opprobre sur les jurés et la suspicion sur leur probité, caractérisant ainsi le manquement au devoir de modération et de délicatesse ».




Pakistan: Balochistan: Young lawyer’s dead body discovered

June 7, 2018


The lawyers in Balochistan have boycotted court proceedings on Tuesday against the murder of a fellow lawyer in Ziarat Cross are of Quetta.

According to details, the dead body of a 30-year-old lawyer, Zamin Khan, was discovered in Ziarat Cross area of Quetta on 6th June.

The dead body of the lawyer had bullets wounds.

However, it is not clear yet whether he was abducted and killed in custody or he has been target killed.

Last month on May 31, a woman lawyer was shot dead at her home in Jacobabad district, Balochistan. The slain solicitor Sanam Umrani, a mother of three children, was a legal counsel for her slain brother Waqar Umrani who had allegedly killed his wife Tahira Khoso in 2015.

Waqar was also shot dead a few months after the killing of his wife. His body was recovered from a car in Balochistan.

According to The Express Tribune, City SHO Ghazanfar Ali Bhutto told the local media that the slain woman was the legal counsel for her brother in the murder case. She was being coerced to withdraw herself from the case, the SHO said.


Iran: Lowering The Bar: Tehran ‘White List’ Excludes Most Lawyers From Politically Charged Cases

June 6, 2018

Iranian political prisoner Arash Sadeghi (file photo)

Only a tiny fraction of Iran’s lawyers — 20 so far — will be allowed to defend citizens accused by the country’s secretive, labyrinthine judicial authorities of political crimes, according to local media and legal sources who report seeing the list and a hard-line news agency’s report confirming its existence.

The dramatic curb on a defendant’s right to representation is already being seen in watchdog circles as a fresh threat to Iranians deemed enemies of the clerically dominated leadership.

The defense attorneys on the list, from a possible pool of thousands, have reportedly been approved by the hard-line Judiciary to take on clients in so-called Article 48 and Article 302 cases — national security but also political and media offenses as described in the 3-year-old Criminal Code — during the investigative stage of proceedings.

There was no explanation of the criteria that were used by the Judiciary — which routinely prosecutes peaceful demonstrators, dual nationals with ties to academic institutions abroad, and government critics — nor was it clear why it took more than four years from the code’s passage, and nearly three years from its implementation, to produce the list.













India: Indian police arrest Dalit activists amid criticism

June 6, 2018

Dalits, who have suffered thousands of years of exclusion and extreme poverty, are at the bottom of India's Hindu caste hierarchy [Reuters]

Police in the Indian state of Maharashtra on Wednesday arrested five Dalit activists on charges of inciting violence earlier this year, drawing criticism from community leaders.

The arrests of the Dalit writers and activists – Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, and Surendra Gadling – were made in connection to clashes between unprivileged caste Dalits and privileged caste groups in Bhima Koregaon, central Maharashtra, and ensuing protests in January. Two people were killed in the violence.

Dalits, who have suffered thousands of years of exclusion and extreme poverty, are at the bottom of India’s Hindu caste hierarchy.

Shivaji Pawar, additional commissioner of police in Pune, told Al Jazeera the “probe is at a primary stage”.

“They have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities Act and charges under the Indian penal code,” Pawar said.

In January, Dalits from across Maharashtra took to the streets to protest against a January 1 attack on the community during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon.

During that battle in 1818, unprivileged-caste Dalits sided with British colonial forces to defeat privileged-caste rulers.

‘Inflammatory speeches’

The police are probing the connection of those arrested on Wednesday to “inflammatory speeches” at an event in Pune on December 31, 2017.












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Condemn the arbitrary arrests of Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, and Mahesh Raut by the Maharashtra Police!

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is outraged at the arbitrary arrest of its valued member, Professor Shoma Sen along with other leading Dalit and human rights activists, in an alarming crackdown on civil liberties activists throughout the country.

Today, on 6th June 2018 at 6 am in the morning, Professor Shoma Sen, Advocate Surendra Gadling, cultural activist Sudhir Dhawale, human rights activist Rona Wilson and anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut were arrested from different locations in Nagpur, Bombay and Delhi by the Maharashtra police. Professor Shoma Sen – Head of the English Department in Nagpur University and a long time Dalit and women’s rights activist, Advocate Surendra Gadling — General Secretary of the Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL), Sudhir Dhawale — editor of the Marathi magazine Vidrohi and founder of the Republican Panthers, Rona Wilson – human rights activist and Secretary of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) and Mahesh Raut — anti-displacement activist working with Gram Sabhas in the mining areas of Gadhchiroli and a former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow — are all reportedly arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon riots that took place in January 2018. These arrests follow intense harassment of these activists; and many of them had their houses raided earlier this year in April by the Maharashtra police along with raids at the homes of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) activists Rupali Jadhav, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor, Sagar Gorkhe, Dhawala Dhengale in Pune and Republican Panther activist Harshali Potdar

These arrests are in response to the assertion of Dalit, Adivasi, OBC, Muslim unity during the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan organised by the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ in Shaniwarwada in Pune on 31st December 2017. The Abhiyan was organised at the eve of bi-centenary of the battle between Peshwas and the British near the village of Koregaon on the Bhima River. The British regiment largely consisting of people from the Mahar community had stood up against the Peshwas and this is seen as a fight against the Brahmanical forces historically perpetuating caste discrimination against some of the most marginalised people of the country. Today, this battle is being witnessed again under the regime of Brahmanical Hindutva fascism of the current government that is crushing the voices of marginalised once again through its coercive forces. This year, the Abhiyan was attacked by right wing organisations in the state of Maharashtra, and attackers were brandishing saffron flags, with the active support of the state police. This resulted in the death of one and injuries on several people. The leaders inciting the violence went on to file cases of violence against the organisers of the programme along with several unnamed persons resulting in immediate mass arrests of dalits, activists and participants, all over the state of Maharashtra by the state police.

In the wake of the violence, on 3rd January, several dalit, OBC, Muslim and Maratha organisations and leaders joined hands and called for a united Maharashtra Bandh calling for unity and condemning brutal violence and divisive politics of Hindutva forces. Led by Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, the bandh was observed by people all over the state of Maharashtra. During the mass peaceful bandh, the Maharashtra police detained and arrested over 5000 people, mainly dalits, from across the state. Of the thousands arrested, several were taken from their homes, including children, while the mainstream media completely blacked out the entire operation of the state government and the police. This reveals deep rooted casteism, Brahmanical and feudal arrogance of the state as well as its extreme fear of the assertion of the most marginalised people of the country. By filing cases against several thousand people, the state attempted to intimidate and coerce the people into silence.

Those who attacked the Bhima-Koregaon Abhiyan were treated differently. Despite Sambhaji Bhide, leader of Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan and one of the main persons who orchestrated and incited violence, being charged under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Arms Act after widespread protests from across the country, he walks free and gloats about his actions openly while receiving the blessings of politicians and ideologues of Hindutva. Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekata Aghadi was arrested in March 2018, but was out on bail a month later. The efforts to raid the homes of several activists, taking away their phones, pen drives, hard drives, and laptops of the activists of the Elgaar Parishad has deprived them of the evidence that proves the involvement of people like Sambhaji Bhide. Several activists who were not at the Elgaar Parishad programme are now being picked up and arrested in order to portray them as Naxals. This narrative suits the interests of the state that is bent on protecting the Hindutva brigade while attacking the dalits, adivasis, Muslims and women of this country. This is further illustrated after the death of Pooja Sakal, a young dalit woman, was found dead in mysterious circumstances in a well near her home in Koregaon. Instead of investigating this death, the police along with the caste Hindus of the village have worked hard to ostracise the entire dalit population from Koregaon’s dalit basti.

Now, the string of arrests shows the targeted attacks on the people speaking for the rights of dalits, adivasis, Muslims and women. The arbitrary arrests also indicate a concerted attempt by the Indian State to break the backbone of the Dalit Movement against the unjust caste system. From the dilution of the hard-won SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act to the arrest of Dalit activists such as Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ of the Bhim Army under the draconian National Security Act (NSA), it is clear that the Indian State is conducting a vicious witch-hunt of all the activists who are raising their voice against caste atrocities. On the other hand, instead of taking action against the perpetrators of the violence during Bhima Koregaon Abhiyan, the state machinery is focused on targeting activists, professors, and lawyers who have condemned the violence of the Hindutva leaders as well as the police. These raids come at a time when the people of the country from Thoothkudi to Kalinganagar, Gadchiroli to Delhi have risen up united against the anti-people policies of the state. The crushing of such voices of dissent is a direct attack on the democracy of this country and intends to intimidate people into silence. Today, we must come together, condemn the arrests of these activists and reaffirm our resolve to speak out boldly against the fascist state.

WSS unequivocally stands in solidarity with Professor Shoma Sen and all the others arrested today, and demands

· The immediate and unconditional release of Professor Shoma Sen, Advocate Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut

· An end to the vindictive harassment and state repression of all those activists and intellectuals who organized or spoke at the Elgaar Parishad

· A high-level investigation into the widespread violence organized against Dalit, OBC and Muslim communities in the aftermath of the Bhima-Koregaon commemoration.

· Immediate arrest of Sambhaji Bhide on serious charges of rioting, attempt to murder and under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, and cancellation of bail of Milind Ekbote.

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

Email ID againstsexualviolence@gmail.com


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