Monthly Archives: April 2013

Meena Kandasamy accepts award in the name of Sheetal Sathe and others #womenrights

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Meena Kandasamy at the India Today Woman Summit 2013, awards were given out to those women who had broken the glass ceiling and had reached the top of the pyramid with their hard work.:


Thank you India Today. I’ve never got a prize before and I would like it to sort of remain that way. So, instead of collecting this India Today Woman’s Storyteller Award in my name, I want to collect it in the name of women who are saying all the bitter truths. And at this juncture, because these are few words I get to speak to very powerful women and men, I want to take this in the name of Sheetal Sathe, of Kabir Kala Manch, who was writing poetry and singing songs about all the problems and who is now being alleged of being a terrorist or a naxalite. And in the name of Rinu Srinivasan and Shaheen Dada who put up a facebook post and had to go to jail for that. And in the name of all the journalists like Shahina who was covering the Madani case and was legally persecuted for that. Story telling, even if it looks like a very leisurely pastime has a lot of repercussions and not everybody gets away with speaking out their mind telling the truth. This award is not for any individual. I think whenever there is a moment of crisis, we are acting as a collective. I can take this award only in the name of all Indian women who are speaking out, and facing persecution.

 

You can watch the video  here http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/india-today-woman-awards-2013-winners/1/266664.html

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India – That shrinking space for dissent #Protest

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RIGHT TO PROTEST

April 27, 2013, Times Crest 

The government’s action against the Kabir Kala Manch in Maharashtra as a naxalite outfit shows us just why we need to defend our right to protest, writes Anand Patwardhan

On July 11, 1997, Ramabai Colony in Ghatkopar, Mumbai, had awoken to find its statue of Dr Ambedkar desecrated with a garland of footwear. As angry residents poured onto the adjacent highway, the state’s Reserve Police Force arrived and opened fire, killing ten. In grief, poet-singer Vilas Ghogre hung himself in his hut in nearby Mulund.

I had loved and recorded Vilas’s music over many years and tried to understand why a Marxist like him had reasserted his Dalit identity by tying a blue bandanna as he died. I explored class and caste and followed other poet-musicians like Vilas who used their art for emancipation. The 10th year of this journey brought me back to Ramabai Colony where a commemoration was in progress to honour the martyrs of Ramabai and Khairlanji. After the rape and massacre of Dalits in Khairlanji village in 2006, protests had flared across Maharashtra. The government cracked down, describing them as “Maoist inspired”. Three years later it gave Khairlanji village an award for being a model of peace (” Tantamukti Gaon” ).

On 11 July, 2007, the sense of outrage and injustice was palpable at Ramabai Colony. Many musicians performed. But the most electric of all was a young group from Pune, the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). As Sheetal Sathe’s strong, clear voice rang out, the words piercing hearts and minds, I knew that the legacy of Vilas Ghogre would never die.

I began to follow the KKM, filming their public performances, speaking with Sheetal’s mother who despite her faith in the “goddess” tolerated the growing rational consciousness of the children she had educated. KKM lent support to a range of movements that had taken on the venality of the system, from Medha Patkar‘s non-violence to their own Mahatma Phule-inspired movement for intercaste marriage.

Atrocities like Khailanji began to make KKM more edgy. Ambedkar was now interwoven with Marx and the young believers challenged an older generation that had settled for crumbs from the high table. Yet nothing about the KKM was dogmatic and they remained internally democratic. Sachin the published poet, and Sheetal and Sagar, the accomplished musicians, saw to it that everyone got a chance to sing, write and perform.

In 2011, I lost contact with the group, but soon understood the reason. Deepak Dengle of the KKM had been arrested by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), accused of being a Naxalite. A startled KKM went underground even as Sheetal’s mother insisted that her children would fight only with “song and drum”.

Police-planted articles began to appear in the media. Accusations against KKM drew on “confessions” obtained in police custody like the one by Deepak Dengle alleging that KKM attended a meeting where Maoists were present. Deepak subsequently withdrew his statement stating that it was obtained under torture. He was recently released on bail after the Bombay High Court held that alleged membership of a banned outfit could not constitute grounds for detention, that an actual crime or intention to commit one would have to be proved. Deepak, after his release, described how acid was used on his back during torture and how his family was threatened.

In 2012, a few citizens and I had formed a Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee, fearing for the lives of those branded as Naxalites. We met the chief minister of Maharashtra and the home minister, who informed us that the charges against the KKM were not serious. Finally we were overjoyed when a lawyer friend informed us that Sheetal and Sachin had made contact and wanted to come overground. To prevent the police from claiming they had “caught” them, the surfacing was arranged outside the state assembly, in full public glare. Prakash Ambedkar and CPI leaders accompanied members of our committee as Sheetal and Sachin sang a song, declaring that their action was not “surrender”, but a “satyagraha” for the freedom of expression.

Eventually the ATS arrived to collect its quarry. We met the CM that evening and he promised to prevent torture. In court the next day, Sheetal, who is pregnant, was sent directly into judicial custody while Sachin was remanded to ATS questioning for two weeks. We learnt that although Sachin was not allowed to sleep for three days, there was no physical torture. Meanwhile, the volume of support for KKM was so sustained that the ATS switched off its fax machines. But they countered through the mainstream media that Sachin and Sheetal were indeed Naxalites.

Are they? I see them as fiery idealists who are fighting to make our society just and equitable. Does that distinguish them from Naxalites? The ATS seems confused. To me the distinction lies in the fact that the only weapon Sachin and Sheetal fight with is their poetry and song.

But in the worst-case, even if it were concluded that they made contact with a banned organisation, what bewilders me is the question of what the state wants from them now? They gave themselves up. They expressed the desire to sing freely again within the bounds of democracy. Other members from their group are still underground, obviously watching to see what the state does. What message is the state sending? That it prefers to brand them as Naxalites and push them into the forest rather than allow them safe passage?

Last week, Sheetal’s bail was refused. Neither she nor Sachin are accused of any act of violence. Are people who give themselves up going to run away? Surely our democracy needs their song.

The writer is a documentary filmmaker

 

Musical Protest for release of Kabir Kala Manch Members

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Hirawal at Gandhi Maidan against arrest of KKM activists

Jan Sanskriti Manch Against Arrest of Kabir Kala Manch Activists

 

On 17th April, Jan Sanskriti Manch issued a statement calling for immediate release of the cultural activists Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali of Kabir Kala Manch of Maharashtra. Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali and the Kabir Kala Manch are remarkable public performers of revolutionary music against caste, class and gender oppression, corporate land grab, and state repression. Their organization has been branded a Maoist outfit and its activists had been pushed underground for a long time. Recently, they defied the ban on their organization and performed openly, after which Sheetal and Sachin were arrested. JSM called for protests all over the country against this attempt to silence the revolutionary music of KKM.

On 22 April, Hirawal organized a musical protest at Gandhi Maidan against the incarceration of Kabir Kala Manch activists. Hirawal on this occasion performed Sheetal Sathe’s song Bhagat Singh Tum Zinda Ho, followed by several other revolutionary songs. Hirawal will conduct a campaign from May 1-5, during which they will distribute leaflets and perform music among people, demanding that the voices of Sheetal and Sachin be freed.

JSM and AISA held a protest march and mass meeting in Allahabad against the arrest of Sheetal and Sachin and against rape and sexual violence, in which Janmat editor Ramji Rai, JSM General Secretary Pranay Krishna, Meena Rai, manager of Janmat, Prof. Rajendra Kumar, AISA leader Ramayan Ram participated.

JSM will hold protest programmes at several other places also, in the near future.

 

Free Kabir Kala Manch- Raptivist A-List

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NEW MUSIC: FREE KABIR KALA MANCH – A LIST

admin| April 20, 2013, zomba.in

Mumbai Social ‘Raptivist A-List is back on your speakers with a new joint called ‘Free Kabir Kala Manch’, and you know it’s not about a party. This time the emcee who has become some kind of social commentator, teams up once again with his comrade rapper/producer Shyn9n from Srinagar (they collaborated on ‘Tale of Afzal Guru) as they tackle the issue of the ‘Kabir Kala Manch’ a group that has been charged with involvement in Naxalite activities and members imprisoned by the Maharashtra government .
As always strong in his opinions, A-list explains why he has chosen to ally with this perceived group of outlaws…

“I have followed the Kabir Kala Manch case closely for a while now. These are just protest poets, not naxals. ..

They fight with pens and microphones, not guns and bombs. As a protest musician myself, I feel a deep solidarity with them and felt the need to rap about the injustice they are facing….just like many rappers have made songs to express their desire to freeMumia-Abu Jamal in America.”

The delivery style is simpler and less detailed than his previous songs which adds emphasis on content, which we guess was the rappers intention.
A-List also takes the opportunity to take a dig at the Indian indie music scene, saying they stand for nothing, unlike Bob Dylan and Tupac who stood for principles…

“Please note there are no charges of violence,
It’s a cheap joke, we’ve largely been silent,
They sing of malnutrition and farmer suicides,
On that Bhagat Singh shit, this is martyr’s music right,
The real Bob Dylans, Tupacs of the nation,
While indie scene is just a simulation”

The song is freely available for download and like most of A-List’s tracks, it’s a stand-alone single for the cause.  You can expect to see him perform it at upcoming open mics and protest concerts.

Listen to ‘Free Kabir Kala Manch’ below and let us know what you think about the track

https://soundcloud.com/alistrap/free-kabir-kala-manch-produced

 

Support pours in for arrested Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali

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, TNN | Apr 21, 2013, 0

Support pours in for arrested 'Naxal' duo
Letters of support have been pouring in from all over the world, including countries like France, Canada, UK, Thailand, Portugal and Germany, for the jailed couple  of Kabir Kala Manch, Sheetal Sathe ansd Sachin Mali
MUMBAI: Letters of support have been pouring in from all over the world, including countries like France, Canada, UK, Thailand, Portugal and Germany, for the jailed couple of Kabir Kala Manch, Sheetal Sathe ansd Sachin Mali, written in English and French, request the Arthur Road and the Byculla women’s prison authorities to not torture the two inmates and provide medical aid to the woman, who is six months pregnant.Till date, authorities have received over 30 letters via fax and over 50 from across the world. Home minister R R Patil too has received similar letters. One of the letters, addressed to Vinod Lokhande, inspector general (prisons), stated, “I am writing to you out of concern for theatre activists Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali, who were arrested on April 2 on various charges, including criminal conspiracy and being part of a banned outfit. Their lives are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”

Fed up with the continuous letters, jail officials have switched off the fax machine. “We don’t have so much stationery. All letters are almost same, only the senders are different. The fax letters do not show the location or country code, from where they are being sent,” said a source. After Sathe and Mali’s surrender under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), activists Prakash Ambedkar, Prakash Reddy, Anand Patwardhan and others said the two are members of Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural outfit.

“In appearing before the police, KKM members state that this act should not be construed to be a “surrender” but as a form of “satyagraha” to clear their names and establish the fact that their goal is to fight for justice within the confines of democratic conduct,” said a statement signed by Ambedkar, Patwardhan and others.

 

Daughter’s songs never caused violence, says Sheetal Sathe’s Mother

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MUMBAI: Sandhya Sathe looks tired as she emerges from the Byculla women’s jail on Monday. She has travelled from Pune to Mumbai for her weekly meeting with her daughter, Sheetal Sathe, who has been in judicial custody for two weeks.

Sheetal, 27, and her husband Sachin Mali, both Pune-based singers and poets from the cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), were arrested in Mumbai on April 2 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for their alleged association with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Sheetal, whose bail application will be heard on Wednesday, is six months pregnant.

“My daughter and her group sing about poverty, caste discrimination and women’s rights. But there has never been any instance of violence breaking out because of their songs,” says Sathe, 50, who lives in Pune’s Bhavanipet slum and spoke to HT outside the prison.

Until a year ago, Sathe worked as a sweeper in a private hospital in Pune. She also worked as a part-time domestic help with two families who had helped fund Sheetal’s education in a private Marathi-medium school. Sheetal went on to do her Master’s in sociology at Fergusson College, topping her class.

Sachin Mali, who comes from a poor family in Sangli, was a student at the same college, also a gold medallist in his subject, Marathi.

In 2003, Sheetal and Mali joined KKM, a cultural organisation of students and professionals who performed protest music in villages and colleges across the state. Sachin, who married Sheetal seven years ago, also worked as a bus conductor with the Pune Municipal Corporation.

“After the police began hunting for KKM members two years ago, my family cut me off and I was asked to quit my job at the hospital,” says Sathe, a widow since 2007.

She now hopes Sheetal and Sachin are granted bail. “Sheetal has lost a lot of weight because of the food in jail. I worry about her,” she says.

 

Mumbai- Kashmir collaboration -Rapping for Kabir Kala Manch #protestmusic

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kkm (1)

Another Mumbai-Kashmir collaboration with lyrics and vocals of A-List (Bombay) and production from Shyn9n (Kashmir). This song is dedicated to the Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural group that has been wrongly charged as naxalites and imprisoned for their protest music.

Lyrics:

Let’s get to the point, this is the crunch,
Dedicate this joint to Kabir Kala Manch,
They’re poets, they say what the facts are like,
But the state is calling them Naxalites, (X2)

Who is Kabir Kala Manch? You browse in the news,
A group that was formed in 2002,
Of poets and artists who are loud with their views,
A real artist tells the crowd what was true,
The scripts were hard ‘coz of reality though,
This shit’s bizarre, where did equality go,
There’s no quality though, such a tragedy yo,
Could be a parody show what we gladly ignore,
Two dalits are raped and three killed everyday,
Can you relate or even say what it may,
Feel in the state where you deal with the hate,
But the scene is replaced with the cream of the fake,
Upper class Upper caste Privilege,
You say fuck all the past pillages,
But the past images are still in vast villages,
Even in the cities, you see caste still exists,
You think not, but the dream won’t last,
Get shot for saying “Jai Bhim Comrade”,
You think not, but the dream won’t last,
Get shot for saying “Jai Bhim Comrade”,

Let’s get to the point, this is the crunch,
Dedicate this joint to Kabir Kala Manch,
They’re poets, they say what the facts are like,
But the state is calling them Naxalites, (X2)

Just let the flow say what the pen spray,
Arrest Siddharth Bhonsle and Deepak Dengle,
But in the end they know the case is weak,
But the state it seeks to erase the steak,
Of being honest and true, so keep adjusting these,
Dates so they extend the custody,
Forget just or free, these are dark days,
After surrender of Sheetal Sathe,
Six months pregnant, let me hone this story,
Judicial Custody unlike Soni Sori,
Who they sexually abused, there is crazy stress,
For intellectual views, end up with ATS,
Sachin Mali under Anti Terrorist Squad,
So now poets can be terrorists, lord!
Please note there are no charges of violence,
It’s a cheap joke, we’ve largely been silent,
They sing of malnutrition and farmer suicides,
On that Bhagat Singh shit, this is martyr’s music right,
The real Bob Dylans, Tupacs of the nation,
While indie scene is just a simulation,
They the real deal, they not what militants be,
Some songs might endorse militancy,
But merely endorsing a view is not a criminal act,
While the losses accrue where the minerals at,
Corporates are robbing the nation blind,
But that’s all great, just don’t relate their crimes,
To the people, that makes these suckers jump,
That’s why they arrested Kabir Kala Manch,

Kabir Kala Manch,
That’s why they arrested Kabir Kala Manch,
Put your fist in the air like you gonna punch,
And sing for Kabir Kala Manch,
For Kabir Kala Manch,
Free Kabir Kala Manch,
Free Sheetal Sathe, Deepak Dengle,
Sachin Mali, Siddharth Bhonsle,
Free poets who speak up,
Free Kabir Kala Manch.

 

Listen the song below

 

https://soundcloud.com/alistrap/free-kabir-kala-manch-produced