[WSMDiscuss] India : Planted evidence and the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad 16 : Citizens’ statement demands immediate release

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Wed Aug 18 17:34:04 CEST 2021

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

India in movement…, Resistance in movement…

Planted evidence and the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad 16 : Citizens’ statement demands immediate release

https://kafila.online/2021/08/18/planted-evidence-and-the-bhima-koregaon-elgar-parishad-16-citizens-statement-demands-immediate-release/ <https://kafila.online/2021/08/18/planted-evidence-and-the-bhima-koregaon-elgar-parishad-16-citizens-statement-demands-immediate-release/>

We, the undersigned, condemn the continued incarceration of the academics, cultural activists, human rights activists, lawyers, poets and trade unionists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case and unitedly demand their immediate release. After three years of media trial, harassment, raids and arrests of 16 persons, one of the arrested, Father Stan Swamy died on July 5th following wanton medical neglect in custody amounting to institutional murder.

Those who remain in custody include professors Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu and Shoma Sen, cultural activists Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe, writer and anti-caste activist Sudhir Dhawale, anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut, lawyers Arun Ferreira, Surendra Gadling and Sudha Bharadwaj, human rights activists Gautam Navlakha, Rona Wilson and Vernon Gonsalves and poet Varavara Rao. Now, with the revelations in the Pegasus Project, it is clear that 8 of the 16 were under surveillance for several years before their arrest. Moreover, the Arsenal Consulting reports show how evidence was planted in the devices of at least two of the arrested. The revelations have unambiguously exposed the extent of illegal military-grade surveillance on the arrested, their families, colleagues and friends. Besides violating their privacy, the extraordinary measures taken to silence voices of dissent in the name of national security stands exposed.

The utilisation of cyber weapons to target, implicate and then incarcerate dissenting voices has expanded immeasurably, more so when these are done without oversight or accountability. With surreptitious planting of incriminating digital documents, reliance on such ‘evidence’ to establish prima facie case in courts, widespread arrests alongside a vicious media trial and, finally, prolonged incarceration without trial, the erosion of the fabric of democracy is complete. The use of highly advanced and tailored digital attacks on human rights activists, journalists, judges, lawyers, politicians and a broad range of citizens of this country shows the desperation of a government teetering on the edges of the law and the manipulation of the state machinery to serve its ends. Accompanied by legal over-reach through the invocation of colonial laws like sedition and the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the actions of the current regime shows that the incarcerated remain in the custody of unabashed impunity.
This impunity is egregious when contrasted with those upholding the principles of democracy. All the arrested have worked for the assertion of the most oppressed and marginalised in society and spoken out against majoritarian Brahmanical Hindutva forces, Brahmanical patriarchy and upheld the right to life, land, livelihood and dignity. They have steadfastly campaigned for the rights of political prisoners before becoming political prisoners themselves. While the perpetrators of violence against Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims, women, workers, peasants, marginalised sexualities and oppressed communities enjoy the protection of the state, those incarcerated in the case are publicly maligned, implausible plots and political intrigue are ascribed to them and then the draconian UAPA is invoked to deny them bail. They are further dehumanised in prison, deprived of regular access to legal counsel and communication with family members, denied adequate medical care and detained indefinitely. These are the actions of a retributive regime, a regime that upholds Brahmanical Hindutva fascism beneath the veneer of a constitutional democracy.

Democracy upholds the fundamental right to life and liberty alongside the right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association and movement in our country. The Supreme Court of India deemed the right to privacy as integral to the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed in Article 21 (K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India 2017). The use of digital surveillance as a weapon by the government against the people of the country is a violation of this fundamental right. It makes a mockery of the principles of democracy and exposes the vacuity of the claims of national security. The Supreme Court has time and again reiterated the need to uphold the principles of democracy, demanded a review of colonial laws and upheld dissent as a safety valve of democracy. Father Stan Swamy died as an undertrial due to apathy and sheer criminal neglect. Along with timely justice, it is imperative that his co-accused are guaranteed the fundamental right to a life with dignity. Upholding the rule of law and the principles of justice, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case. We unequivocally demand the release of all political prisoners.

In solidarity,

AK Ramakrishan, Professor, JNU
Amit Bhaduri, Professor of Economics
Amit Chaudhuri, Novelist
Amitabha Pande, IAS (Retd), Former Secy to Govt of India
Amitav Ghosh, Novelist
Ananya Vajpeyi, Writer and Scholar, New Delhi
Anand Patwardhan, Independent Filmmaker
Annapurna Menon, Doctoral Researcher, Univeristy of Westminster
Anvar Ali, Poet
Atamjit Singh, Playwright and Theatre Director
Biju Mathew, Associate Professor, Rider University, New Jersey
Binu Karunakaran, Journalist, Kerala
Binu Mathew, Journalist, Kerala
Bivitha Easo, Research Scholar, Uni of Hyderabad
Bratati Pande, Retd faculty, Dept of Economics, Univ of Delhi
Chaman Lal Retired Professor JNU
Chris Sinha, Honorary Professor, University of East Anglia
Damodar Mauzo, Writer and Critic, Goa
Dilip Simeon, Writer, Delhi
Freny Manecksha, Journalist, Mumbai
Gabriele Dietrich, Activist, Madurai
Gauhar Raza, Chief Scientist, NISCIR, New Delhi
Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai
Ghanshyam Shah, Retired Prof, JNU, New Delhi
Gita Ramaswamy, Hyderabad Book Trust
Githa Hariharan, Author
Gyanendra Pandey, Professor of HIstory, Emory University
Henri Tiphagne, Advocate and National Working Secretary, Human Rights Defenders’ Alert – India ( HRDA)
InSAF India (International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India)
Jayasree Kalathil, Writer and Translator, London
Jeet Thayil, Poet and Activist
John Dayal, Journalist and Activist
Joseph Mathai, Publisher and Civil Rights Activist
Jyotsna Kapur, Southern Illinois University
Kalyan Raman N, Writer and Literary Translator, Chennai
Kanji Patel, Poet, Gujarat
Karen Gabriel, Professor, St Stephen’s College, Delhi University
Kavin Malar, Journalist and Activist
Kavita Krishnan, Author and Activist, New Delhi
Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist and Independent Writer
Keki Daruwalla, Poet, New Delhi
Kutti Revathi, Poet and Filmmaker, Chennai
KP Fabian, Analyst, Writer, Former Diplomat
Laila Kadiwal, Lecturer in Education, UCL
Lotika Singh, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Wolverhampton
Madhu Bhaduri, Former Ambassador of India
Maheen Mirza, Filmmaker, Bhopal
Malathi Maithri, Poet, Anangu Feminist Publications
Mallika Sarabai, Indian classical dancer and activist
Meena Dhanda, Professor of Philosophy, University of Wolverhampton
Meena Kandasamy, Writer and Poet
Mohan Rao, Retired Professor, JNU
Mridula Garg, Writer
Mukul Kesavan, Editor
Namita Gokhale, Writer
Nandini Chandra, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Nandini Dhar, writer, teacher and alternative media activist
Nandini Sundar, Sociologist
Nandita Narain, St Stephen’s College, Delhi University
Naveen Gaur, Delhi University
Neel Chaudhuri, Playwright and Theatre Director, New Delhi
Neepa Majumdar, Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh
Nivedita Menon, JNU, New Delhi
Oishik Sircar, Kolkata
Pamela Philipose, Journalist, New Delhi
Pankaj Bisht, Hindi writer
Pankaj Butalia, Filmmaker
Parvati Sharma, Author
PK Vijayan, Delhi University
Prasad Chacko, Social Worker, Ahmedabad
Prem Chandavarkar, Bengalur
Pritam Singh, Professor Emeritus, Oxford Brookes Business School
Pushpamala N, Artist, Bangalore
Rahman Abbas, Writer
Rajathi Salma, Novelist and Poet
Rakesh Ranjan, Faculty, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University
Rita Kothari, Professor, Ashoka University
Ritty Lukose, Professor, New York University
Rohini Hensman, Writer and Independent Scholar, Mumbai
Roja Suganthy Singh – President, Dalit Solidarity Forum in the USA and ICWI – Executive Committee
Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Professor Emerita, IIT Delhi
S Anand, Publisher, Navayana
Sachin N, Faculty, Dyal Singh College, Common Teachers’ Forum, Delhi University
Sangeeta Kamat, Professor, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Sanjeev Kumar, Professor, University of Delhi
Saroj Giri, Faculty, Political Science, Delhi University
Satchidanandan, Writer and Poet, New Delhi
Shah Alam Khan, Professor, AIIMS, New Delhi
Sheetal Chhabria, Historian, Connecticut College
Shuddabrata Sengupta, Artist, Raqs Media Collective
Sivakami Palanimuthu, Novelist
Sohail Hashmi, Writer, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Sruti Bala, Associate Professor, University of Amsterdam
Subhasis Bandyopadhyay, IIEST, Shibpur
Subrat Kumar Sahu, Independent Filmmaker and Journalist, New Delhi
Suchitra Vijayan, Writer and Barrister, New York
Sudhanva Deshpande, Author, Actor, Publisher
Sumangala Damodaran, Professor, Ambedkar University
Surinder S Jodhka, Professor of Sociology, JNU, New Delhi
Swati Mukund Kamble, Independent Researcher
Tanweer Fazal, Professor, University of Hyderabad
Thirumurugan Gandhi, Activist, May 17 Movemement, Tamil Nadu
TM Krishna, Musician and Author
Uma Chakravarti, Academic and Activist
Vanchi Nathan, Advocate, Madurai High Court
Venugopal N, Editor, Veekshanam
Vijay Prashad, Chief Correspondent, Globe Trotter
Vivek Narayanan, Professor of English, George Mason University
Vivek Sundara, Rights Activist
Zoya Hasan, Academic and Political Scientist


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net> &  <mailto:jsen at uottawa.ca>jsen at uottawa.ca <mailto:jsen at uottawa.ca>
Now based in Ottawa, Canada, on unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) and in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325)

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