Sheetal Sathe sings song on Govind Pansare, penned in prison by Sachin Mali

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“In the dark times, will there also be singing?

Yes there will also be singing.

About the dark times”- Bertolt Brecht.

In a time when freedom of expression is being attacked all around us, and progressive voices are being silenced or murdered, there are some who continue to use their voices to bring light into a world seemingly engulfed in darkness. Just like rationalist crusader Narendra Dabholkar in August 2013, CPI mass leader, Comrade Govind Pansare was shot dead in February 2015. Dark times, indeed. Both men shot dead in identical manner, both having received threats from Hindu fundamentalists. No arrests made in either case.

As a tribute to people like Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, this song was composed by Sachin Mali who is in jail awaiting trial under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). It is sung by his partner Sheetal Sathe who faces the same charges but is out on bail.

And who are Sheetal and Sachin?

Sheetal, Sachin, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor from the predominantly dalit and working class cultural troupe, the Kabir Kala Manch, were accused of being in contact with Naxalites. After initially going into hiding, two years ago they appeared in public and sang in full view of the police, and were arrested. They distributed leaflets stating that they were testing their Constitutional right to the Freedom of Expression. Sheetal was eventually granted bail but the three others are still in jail awaiting trial.

Their songs reflect their firm faith in egalitarian values and rationality.

Dark times indeed.

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