Panel to fight targeting of Dalit youth

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Published: Friday, May 18, 2012,
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

A group of activists announced the formation of a defence committee to work towards securing the release of a jailed activist and others who have labelled Naxalites at the Mumbai Press Club on Friday. The youth belong to Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), a Pune-based cultural organisation.

Kabir Kala Manch is a Dalit organisation whose youth perform songs and plays on varied social topics – from workers rights to environmental issues, women’s liberation to farmers’ suicide, urban displacement and corruption.

While noted documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan pledged to donate the Rs51,000 award money for his film Jai Bhim Comrade towards the newly-formed committee, other members of the civil society who showed their solidarity with KKM were actor Ratna Pathak Shah, Prakash Reddy of CPI, Dr BR Ambedkar’s grandson Anandraj Ambedkar, former IPS officer Sudhakar Suradkar, Com. Prakash Reddy, advocate PA Sebastian and Dalit poet JV Pawar.

Stating that the civil society should support jailed musician-poet Deepak Dengle, also part of his movie, Patwardhan said, “KKM members are against class and caste atrocities. If we don’t give people that space, then we will be responsible for militancy.”

While Dengle is in prison, many other members, including lead singer-poets Sheetal Sathe, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Sachin Mali of Jai Bhim Comrade fame have gone underground after the police charged them with being Naxalites, said a press release.

Actor Ratna Pathak Shah said, “The voice that speaks against injustice must not fall silent. Their art is born out of their firsthand experience and that has validity in a world where everything is second-hand. The state cannot stop this voice.”

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