The Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) is a Pune-based cultural troupe consisting largely of Dalit and working class youth that has performed all over Maharashtra with its unique brand of political theatre, poetry and music encompassing issues of class, caste, environment and human rights.
Last month Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali of the KKM who had spent 2 years in hiding after being charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), gave themselves up in full public glare at the State Assembly. Accused of associating with a banned Naxalite organization, they stated that their action was not “surrender” but a public “satyagraha” to protest the trampling of their freedom of expression.
Today in the same spirit, KKM members Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap and Rupali Jadhav who were also in hiding, are coming forth before the public and the ATS. They are willing to submit themselves to legal questioning and the due process of law.
The location for the satyagraha is significant. The KKM has chosen to come into the open in front of a memorial to the father of the Indian Constitution, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Here the KKM will release a new music cd covering a wide range of issues, from the peoples’ fight against destructive nuclear plant at Jaitapur to the homeless living in precarious slums.
On the occasion of this satyagraha, Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee (KKMDC) together with our well wishers, insist that the State and the ATS proceed smoothly and quickly to a fair trial, without resort to torture or any planting of “evidence”.
The public and the media must remain vigilant. After Sheetal and Sachin’s arrest last month there was some fear of torture and it is reported that State authorities were forced to switch off their fax machines because of the volume of support that poured in for the couple. We expect the same public vigilance to accompany the arrest of Sagar, Ramesh, Rupali and Jyoti.
We demand that all members of the KKM who have voluntarily come forward to face interrogation, must be granted bail speedily. There is no logic to detaining people who give themselves up, as they are obviously not going to run away. The weakest sections of our society face the greatest atrocities and the greatest injustice. We must defend the space for them to air their grievance. Democracy needs their song.
Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee
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