Tag Archives: Mumbai

Armed with revolutionary poems, Kabir Kala Manch activists want to fight against state

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GAYATRI JAYARAMAN  MUMBAI,
Kabir Kala Manch poster
Kabir Kala Manch poster

Aasaman te rachat 

Nahin jaade mein rajaai 
 
Signal pe teri duniya 
Khadi dhoop mein hai bhai
 
Indica mein firte kutte 
Mercedes mein ghoomte kutte 
 
Tujhe biscuit ki bheek 
Aisa kyon hai? Aisa kyon hai? Aisa kyon hai?
Above the bustle of dense Pune city traffic, at a roadside tapri, the sweet voice of primary poet and composer of cultural activism group Kabir Kala Manch, Deepak Dhengle, 38, resurrects these, the first words of revolution he ever penned a decade ago. Three others of the group, Jyoti Jagtap, 27, Siddharth Bhonsle, 27 and Rupali Jadhav, 28 share one cup of tea between them, and listen to the lyrics that are their only weapon against a State that labels them naxals.
All of them have spent the last two years underground, but courted arrest in May this year, and are currently out on bail. Their colleague, poet Sheetal Sathe, nine months pregnant and incarcerated at Byculla jail in Mumbai under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, is released on bail a day after this meeting. Rupali’s husband, Sagar Godkhe, and Jyoti’s husband, Sachin Kale, remain behind bars.
Dhengle, a small time motor mechanic who found employment with the government in Pune after he came to the city when his father was displaced after TELCO shut down in Bhimashankar, in 1996, joined the Manch after the Gujarat riots. He found them singing about the removal of caste, class and community differences. He began to compose and sing too.
Arrested under sections 465, 387, 419, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120 B of the IPC, section 10, 13, 17, 18, 18A, 18 B, 20, 21, 38, 39, 40 (2) of the UAPA, Dhengle’s defence claims that he was tortured in custody to the extent that he faces potential paralysis and was forced to confess sympathy for Naxal. He has never picked up a gun or received arms training, he says. He has been suspended from service and survives on the goodwill of friends.
This is not the intellectual activism of the well-ensconced elite. The crackdown of the State is so intense, to continue is not an easy or obvious choice to make. But he, and those with him, will continue to sing of these issues at colleges, in slums, he says, come what may.
“There is a difference between the ahimsa of Gandhi and the ahimsa of Buddha. Buddha spoke of attadippa bhava (annihilation). It is a whole philosophy of opposition that ends oppression. The youth in its enthusiasm wants instant change. The voice, with which we sing, is the vidrohi voice (the counter culture, the voice of opposition). It is drawn from a long history of Dalit literature and activism that prompted social betterment. If this has us branded naxals, then so be it. If Babasaheb Ambedkar was alive today, maybe he would have accepted the Communist party.” Dhengle says.

 

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#India: Stop Misuse of Counterterrorism Laws #KKM

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Charges Against Dalit Performers Raise Free Speech Concerns

(New York, June 26, 2013) – Authorities in India should conduct an independent review of apparent politically motivated terrorism charges filed against performers in a Dalit cultural group, Human Rights Watch said today. 

Members of Kabir Kala Manch, charged in 2011 under India’s draconian counterterrorism laws, remain subject to prosecution for their alleged support of Maoist militants. One of them, eight months pregnant, was denied bail and must wait until June 27 for an appeals decision on her bail application. Indian courts have repeatedly ruled that ideological sympathy should not be interpreted as active membership in a banned organization.

“The Indian authorities should not conflate shared sympathy for concerns about oppression and social inequity expressed by the Maoists with criminal complicity in violence,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should ensure that peaceful activists can speak out without fear of terrorism charges.”

India’s counterterrorism and sedition laws have been widely misused to target political opponents, tribal groups, religious and ethnic minorities, and Dalits, Human Rights Watch said. Amendments made to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2008 and 2012 could result in further misuse. 

In 2011, authorities in the western Indian state of Maharashtra charged 15 people with being members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) – also known as Naxalites. Eleven of them have been arrested, six of whom are members of Kabir Kala Manch, a Pune-based cultural group of singers, poets, and artists. The group, largely consisting of Dalit youth, uses music, poetry, and street plays to raise awareness about issues such as oppression of Dalits and tribal groups, social inequality, corruption, and Hindu-Muslim relations. 

The state counterterrorism squad arrested two Kabir Kala Manch members, Dhavala K. Dhengale and Siddharth Bhosale, in May 2011. Dhengale’s lawyers allege he was tortured in police custody and was forced to make a confession, which he has retracted. Police also brought cases against four other members of the cultural group, who subsequently went into hiding. 

The authorities accused the six of being members of a “terrorist organization” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. If convicted, they face sentences of up to life in prison. They have also been charged under numerous penal provisions dealing with extortion, cheating, and forgery. 

In January 2013, the High Court in Mumbai granted bail to Dhengale and Bhosale, noting that the charges filed indicated that they were sympathetic to the Maoist philosophy but not active members of the Maoist organization. The court said that “drastic provisions” added to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2008 required that membership in an illegal organization be interpreted in the light of fundamental freedoms such as the rights to free speech and expression, and thus “passive membership” was insufficient for prosecution. 

Following the court order, in April and May, the four other members of Kabir Kala Manch –Sheetal Sathe, Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorke, and Ramesh Gaichor – who had been named in the 2011 case, turned themselves in. All four remain in judicial custody as they wait for the police to file charges. A lower sessions court in Mumbai denied bail to Sathe, who is eight months pregnant. 

“This is not the first time social activists have come under attack or been arbitrarily arrested on unsubstantiated accusations of Maoist links,” Ganguly said. “Wrongful arrests of peaceful activists only hurt the government’s image and provide a fertile ground for Maoist propaganda.” 

Dr. Binayak Sen, a physician and human rights activist, was convicted in December 2010 and sentenced to life in prison for sedition, for allegedly acting as a courier for a Naxalite leader in jail, even though he had visited the leader under the supervision of jail authorities. After his arrest in 2007, Sen was awarded the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, and rights groups and doctors’ organizations have campaigned for his release. Sen has appealed his conviction, and the Supreme Court in April 2011 ordered his release on bail in the interim saying: “We are a democratic country. He may be a sympathizer. That does not make him guilty of sedition.”

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the Indian government to revise the definition of terrorism, and ensure that restrictions on organizations do not violate the rights to freedom of association and expression under international law. Human Rights Watch has also urged the repeal of provisions in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, such as those authorizing pre-charge detention for up to 180 days including 30 days in police custody, limitations on bail, and presumption of guilt in certain circumstances.

“Instead of arresting people who are using art to raise their voices against poor governance and social malaise, the government should focus on better safeguards for fundamental freedoms,” Ganguly said. “Too often, police, frustrated by their inability to stem criminal acts by various armed groups, have misused the law to arrest critics, social activists, or ideological supporters of these groups.”

To view the 2010 Human Rights Watch report “Back to the Future: India’s 2008 Counterterrorism Laws,” please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/07/28/back-future-0

To read the December 2012 Human Rights Watch news release “India: Reject Amendments to Counterterrorism Law,” please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/14/india-reject-amendments-counterterrorism-law

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on India, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/india

 

Anti Nuke song by Kabir Kala Manch – English Translation

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This is a song is from the  second CD of Kabir Kala Manch called  –Rajya Daman Virodhi shahiri, ok aadhar par khadha jan andolan – song is called -JAITAPURCHYA NAVAN  by RAMESH GAICHOR, who is now languishing in arthur road jail in Mumbai

Chernobyl was destroyed, Fukushima was ruined

Now the nuclear disaster is scheduled to hit Jaitapur (2)

Nuclear power is very dangerous

The Uranium tender is destructive

Toxic nuclear waste of thousands of years –

How will we deal with the explosion of the nuclear reactor?

Nuclear science experts are goddamn liars,

Riding a wave of delusive science.

(Refrain)

All pimps have gathered here,

opposition parties with saffron flags

This is a market of ravens,

one corrupt than the other

Thieves and dacoits surround us,

Some adorn khadi, some wear khaki

(Refrain)

The radiation poisoning will spread

Konkan will soon be converted into a crematorium

This poison called radiation will spread into how many things?

Poison will enter the alphonso mangoes

Poison will enter flesh of the jackfruit

Poison will enter cashews and jamun

Poison will enter Palm trees

Poison will enter parboiled rice

Poison will enter raagi roti

Poison will enter karavanda (black berries), kokam

Poison will enter unshelled rice

Poison will enter fish curry

Poison will enter prawns and other clams and crabs

Poison will enter cow’s milk

Poison will enter sweet honey

Poison will enter suru-forest

Poison will enter flowers and leaves

Poison will enter festival of shimga (holi fire)

Poison will enter grains and particles

Poison will enter sea waves

Poison will enter farms, fields and irrigation water canals

Poison will enter soil of Konkan

Poison will enter folks of Konkan

Mother’s milk will be poisonous

The Western Ghats will turn poisonous

(Refrain)

The mall owners need high voltage of electricity

And also three star and five star hoteliers

Bungalow owners, high and mighty people

They will drive away all locals

They will make a beggar out of the king of the sea

To embellish their lavish lives

(Refrain)

Let us carry the flag of Bharat

Let us remember Kabir’s sacrifice

We will light the fire of movement

Will knock them back if they knock us

No looking back now, let us march forward

Let us walk the path of Nandigram

(Refrain)

  Translation – Jayashree Joshi

Listen to the song below

 

#India- Why Is This Pregnant Woman Still In Jail ? #Vaw #Womenrights #mustshare

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Denied bail again, Sheetal Sathe may give birth behind bars. Is this the human face of justice?

ANAND PATWARDHAN

15-06-2013, Issue 24 Volume 10

ON 2 JUNE, eight months pregnant,  (KKM) activist was denied bail by the Mumbai Sessions Court. Sheetal, along with her husband and other members of the cultural group, had come overground in full media glare in April this year after being accused by the Anti- Terror Squad of the Mumbai police of being Naxalites.

They had courted arrest voluntarily, and had chosen to face the due process of law. But clearly, this system is faulty. Bail is usually denied when there is a possibility of the accused running away, but in this particular case, since the accused gave themselves up there are no grounds to suggest that they are going to run away.

Denying bail to somebody who is eight months pregnant is inhuman. It looks increasingly certain that Sheetal and Sachin’s child will be born in jail. We all know what conditions in jail are like. The food is extremely poor at the best of times. Hygiene is non-existent. Though Sheetal is getting medical checkups, her nutrition remains a major cause for concern.

There is not much to prove that these people — youths who use music and poetry, not guns, to protest the institutionalised inequalities rampant in our country — are Naxalites. Even if you assume that they were in some way attracted to the ideology, the Supreme Court has established that mere membership of a banned organisation is not something punishable by itself, in that there is a distinction between active and passive membership of a banned outfit. In fact, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Deepak Dengle and Siddharth Bhonsle, two other members of the KKM who were arrested in 2011 in the same case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, saying that sympathy for an ideology does not incriminate someone. It was that decision that gave Sheetal and Sachin hope for a fair hearing.

These people have not committed a violent crime. Even the State does not accuse them of having committed one. They are being victimised for what they think, or to put it more accurately, what the State assumes they think. By restricting people from singing songs, performing plays or speaking out against injustice, it is reducing the space for dissent a democracy naturally allows. If people are not allowed to voice their grievances publicly, they will be pushed underground. So, in effect, the State is forcing people like them to go against the law.

The  attack in Chhattisgarh has also negatively impacted the general atmosphere. If anyone is accused of being a Naxalite in these volatile times, it becomes a very hard thing to overcome in court or in society.

We are trying to go to the High Court as soon as possible, hopefully before the baby is born. In Sheetal’s case, of course, bail is urgent, but it is important to remember that this is not just an injustice to her. It is an injustice to all the accused who were expecting a chance to have their side of the story heard. In a country where people accused of masterminding the fixing of lucrative cricket matches are given bail in no time, why are radical musicians and performers, one of whom is pregnant, being denied bail? Does justice in this country depend on one’s bank balance?

Patwardhan is a founding member of the Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee.

(As told to Nupur Sonar)

letters@tehelka.com

 

Sheetal Sathe’s Baby maybe Born in Prison, Bail Rejected #Injustice

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Photo: Sheetal's bail was rejected this morning without further arguments. The prosecution lawyer was not even present. Obviously what is appearing on TV and in the news in the aftermath of the Chhatisgarh attack last week has completely influenced the court. Our next resort is to move the High Court and hope for justice and humanity there.</p><br />
<p>Sheetal's baby may have to be born in jail after all as there is just over one month to go. The only logic for denying bail is that the accused may run away. Here the accused themselves came forward to be arrested so there was no question of running away. Neither are they accused of any violent crime. Shame on the system. We have no choice but to fight on to make our democracy behave like one.

June 3, 2013

Sheetal’s bail was rejected on June 2, 2013 at the Session Court Mumbai . This was  the third bail  hearing, earlier, also there was no public prosecutor and  it was adjourned and this time again  prosecution lawyer was not  present. Obviously what is appearing on TV and in the news in the aftermath of the Chhatisgarh attack last week has completely influenced the court. Our next resort is to move  for Bail at teh Bombay  High Court and hope for justice and humanity there.

Sheetal’s baby may have to be born in jail after all as there is just over one month to go. The only logic for denying bail is that the accused may run away. Here the accused themselves came forward to be arrested so there was no question of running away. Neither are they accused of any violent crime.

Shame on the system.

We have no choice but to fight on to make our democracy behave like one.

 

Torch light Procession and protest meet in support of KKM at Gorakhpur

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 Protest at Gorakhpur in support of KKM Gorakhpur, U.P.,4 May, 2013   The cultural activists and intellectuals of Gorakhpur under the banner of Jan sanskriti manch ,brought out a torchlight procession on saturday evening protesting state repression on the revolutionery Dalit cultural organisation Kabir kala Manch of Pune, Maharashtra. Before taking out the procession they assembled at Press club at 4 p.m. and conducted a protest meeting. Speakers at the meeting passed a resolution seeking immediate release of Sheetal Sathe & Sachin Mali, revocation of all false cases  against KKM, social security for their family members and demanded unfettered freedom to continue their cultural activities  . Apart from Jan sanskriti Manch, representatives of IPTA. PUHR and other mass organisations also participated in the meeting as well as torchlight procession. Speakers narrated how repression against KKM started with the arrest of Deepak Dengle and Siddhaarth Bhonsale of KKM under UAPA by the ATS in May 2011 forcing other activists of KKM to go underground. As soon as the bail was granted to Dengle & Bhonsale, Sheetal & Sachin were arrested from the premises of Maharashtra state Assembly where they were on ‘Satyagrah’ asserting their  ‘right to expression’. Speakers highlighted the fact that KKM activists had emerged from the poor, labouring class and dalit background and their  cultural work is directed towards harnessing peoples’ opinion and raising popular consciousness  against social oppression,  economic exploitation, loot and plunder of natural resources by transnational capital and state repression on struggling people. It is this orientation of their cultural work which has prompted Anti-people government to dub them ‘naxals’ or  ‘Maoists’ and frame them under draconian laws.  The imperialist and state agencies stage costly and vulgar shows in the name of culture and seek to co-opt the artists and intellectuals into the system. The cultural movements such as KKM  run counter to such hegemonic cultural strategies of the ruling classes. The torchlight procession started immediately after the meeting. It passed through district court chauraha, chetna tiraha, Golghar , townhall and culminated at press club from where it had started.  Manoj Kumar Singh, Natonal Secretary, Jan sanskriti Manch ,Noted novelist Madan Mohan, literay critic Anil Rai, poets Pramod Kumar, Ved Prakash and Ramu Siddhartha, Dr. Mumtaz Khan of IPTA, Prof. Asim Satyadev, CPI(ML) district secretary Rajesh Sahni, AIPWA district secretary Jagdamba, Advocate Subhash Pal, Ashok Chowdhary, district convenor, JSM, cultural & social  activists Rajaram Chowdhary, Shivnandan Sahay , Anand Pandey, Baijnath Mishra, Haridwar Prasad, R.K. Singh, Syed Akhtar Ali, Maneesh Chowbey, Ashish KumarArun Kumar, Arvind Kumar Barnwal , Niten Agrawal and several others participated in the meeting and procession. Released by Manoj Kumar Singh, National secretary, Jan sanskriti Manch .

 

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