Tag Archives: Anti-Terrorist Squad

Sheetal Sathe of Kabir Kala Manch granted bail at last ! #Freekabirkalmanch

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sheetal

Sheetal Sathe of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) was granted bail this morning by Justice Abhay Thipsay of the Bombay High Court. The move has come as a major relief for all those who have been fighting for her release especially in view of the fact that she is over 8 months pregnant and the Sessions Court had denied her bail.

It will be recalled that the KKM, a dalit and working class cultural troupe from Pune had gone underground after the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested one of their members, Deepak Dengle and had begun describing the group as “Naxalites”.  Deepak was tortured in prison but released on bail after a year and a half along with 5 others when the Bombay High Court ruled that there were no grounds to keep them in jail even under the draconian provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

On April 2, 2013 emboldened by the court ruling, Sheetal Sathe and her husband Sachin Mali of the KKM voluntarily gave themselves up to the authorities in an act of satyagraha for the freedom of expression. A month later Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap and Rupali Jadhav of the KKM also did a satyagraha in public, declaring that they had done no wrong and had come overground after getting confidence that civil society was willing to stand up for them.

The Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee (KKMDC) formed after KKM went underground wishes to thank all those persons and organizations across India and abroad who sent letters and faxes and made phone calls to the government and the ATS. It really is through your efforts alone that the government realized that keeping the KKM unjustly in prison carries a price.

KKMDC will soon move the court to release remaining members of the KKM. We will need your continued support so that sooner rather than later, we hear them sing their songs of freedom and justice again.
Anand Patwardhan

for Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee

27.06.13

 

Reporting without checking the facts — Kabir Kala Manch: Satyagraha not Surrender

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To the Editor and Manager, The Hindustan Times

Dear sir
Yesterday (8th April 2013) your national page carried a completely false and defamatory report on a so called “surrender” under a Maharashtra State government scheme that offers inducements to Naxalites who surrender.

You will be sued for this false and defamatory report if you do not prominently carry on your national page, this letter with an accompanying photograph of the event that gives a truer picture of the issue.

About the event you wrongfully reported, I personally witnessed the following:

4 members of the Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural troupe from Pune who had been accused of being associated with Naxalites by the State and had consequently gone into hiding for two years, did a Satyagraha for their freedom of expression.

At 3 PM on April 7 Sagar Gorkhe, Rupali Jadhav, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jadhav arrived at Dr. Ambedkar’s statue in South Mumbai with their lawyers and members of the Kabir Kala Manch Defense Committee, which included Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar, Comrade Prakash Reddy of the CPI and myself. Here, in front of the media, they sang songs, made speeches and distributed leaflets declaring that they were not guilty and were coming over-ground to fight for their freedom of expression and submit themselves to the rule of law. After paying a floral tribute to Dr. Ambedkar and distributing CDs of their songs they walked down to the Mantralaya. The Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) who had declared them wanted under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, were nowhere to be seen for over two hours. Finally the “wanted” walked down to Prakash Ambedkar’s nearby office still accompanied by media. An hour later Home Minister R.R. Patil agreed to meet the group in his Mantralaya office. In front of the Home Minister the KKM sang a “Lal Salaam” (Red Salute) song while wearing blue headbands that signaled their affinity to the Dalit cause. The ATS finally arrived. They arrested Sagar and Ramesh but chose not to arrest their spouses Rupali and Jyoti. The next day, the two arrested were officially sent to ATS custody for a further 6 days of “questioning”.

The KKM has denied that they are members of any banned organization and therefore the question of surrender does not arise. The implication that a “surrender” took place under a State policy that offers financial inducements in return for information, gravely damages the reputation of this brave and principled cultural troupe. It also defames members of the Kabir Kala Manch Defense Committee that accompanied them at the Satyagaraha. We demand an unconditional apology from the Hindustan Times. The apology should be followed by our letter of protest along with a photograph of the KKM Satyagraha that is herewith attached. We reserve the further right to sue you for defamation, if the visibility accorded to our letter of protest and your unconditional apology is insufficient.

Anand Patwardhan, for Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee

 

Pune’s cultural group members surrender before police

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Written by Saurabh Gupta | Updated: May 09, 2013 NDTV

MumbaiFour more members of Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch handed themselves over to the police for questioning on Tuesday in Mumbai.
The Kabir Kala Manch is a Pune based cultural group who have performed their unique brand of political theatre, poetry and music encompassing issues of class, caste, environment and human rights. The police have accused them of having naxalite links.Last month Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali who had spent two years in hiding gave themselves up outside the state assembly. SheetalOn Tuesday, four members who had been in hiding presented themselves before the public in front of Babasaheb Ambedkar‘s statue near the state secretariat. The group then met Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil and presented some of their songs before him.

After meeting them, Mr Patil told reporters “After the government’s appeal there must have been a change of mind on their behalf. They have decided to fight this in court in a legal manner. The police will not harass them. The government has made its policy clear. If someone who has naxalite links or is accused of having naxalite links comes forward, the government is willing to talk to them.”

Speaking to NDTV, Filmmaker and Activist Anand Patwardhan said, “This is a satyagraha and they are saying we have done no wrong. We are willing to submit ourselves through the new process of law.”

But Mr Patwardhan has defended them saying, “After incidents like Khairlanji and the lack of justice in the Ramabai firing case their songs became more militant and the state interpreted them as some kind of extremism. To my knowledge they have never been charged with any kind of violence.”

The Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee has appealed for a speedy disposition of the cases that have been slapped against the members of the troupe.

 

Statement – Kabir Kala Manch Satyagraha

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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

 

Kabir Kala Manch activists surrender, deny having any links with maoists #KKM

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<kkm4 pic courtesy- indian exppress -Ramesh Gaichor, Sagar Gorkhe and their wives Jyoti Jagtap and Rupali Jadhav outside Oval Maidan Tuesday. Ganesh Shirsekar

The Hindu, May 7, 2013

In a theatrical turn of events which included, singing revolutionary songs in the office of Maharashtra’s Home minister RR Patil after being asked for the same by him, posing with him for photographs and waiting for more than three hours for the officers from Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) to come and arrest, two alleged Maoists on Tuesday surrendered in Mumbai.

Four members of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), a cultural group alleged to be having links with Maoists, on Tuesday afternoon staged Satyagraha near Mantralaya in South Mumbai. They are being accused as Maoists and absconders by the police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

“We are artists. We perform for people and we sing songs which highlight the plight of people and of those who fight against the corrupt system. We are being falsely implicated in cases and wrongly framed as Maoists. We have done nothing but to sing songs,” said Ramesh Gaichor, one of the members of KKM.

All four, Rupali Jadhav, Hyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor were accompanied by members of KKM Defence Committee, which included film-maker Anand Patwardhan, Adv Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr. BR Ambedkar and president of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh and Prakash Reddy of Communist Party of India (CPI).Ramesh Gaichor (28) and Sagar Gorkhe (27) along with their wives Jyoti Jagtap (26) and Rupali Jadhav (27) came to Oval Maidan at 3 pm.For two hours, they sang protest songs and gave out audio CDs to the crowd near the statue of B R Ambedkar. The group, along with Prakash Reddy of CPI, film maker Anand Patwardhan and Bharipa Bahujan Mahasabha‘s Prakash Ambedkar, went to Patil’s office at Mantralaya at 5 pm.https://kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=467&action=edit&message=10#category-add

Ms. Jagtap, another member of KKM said that the four are staging satyagraha because they want their name to be cleared from the ATS wanted list. “We want to sing once again, but want to do it openly. We want all the accusations against us to be cleared because we are not Maoists,” she said.

Ms. Jadhav alleged that ATS teams have been visiting her house and threatening her mother. “They told her that I was killed in encounter in Gadchiroli. I see no reason in torturing our families. We are artists and not criminals,” she said.

To the surprise of all, none of the officials from state ATS turned up to arrest the alleged Maoists, two of whom are named wanted in the charge sheet filed in the court.

All four were then taken to the office of the Mr. Patil, where he was presented with an audio CD of group’s songs after which he even asked them to sing one of the songs. Mr. Patil even called all four of them for a group photograph. It was only after the home minister of Maharashtra informed the ATS chief Rakesh Maria over the telephone, that the ATS came to know about the satyagraha of ‘wanted’ Maoists, inside the administrative headquarter of Maharashtra.

The ATS team arrived at the office of Mr. Patil at 6 PM, after which it was informed that the custody of two females is not required and then can go home.

“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,” said the statement issued by KKM Defence Committee.

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

 

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