Tag Archives: Teesta Setalvad

Release of KKM Music CD Release- ‘ “Hi Amchi Gani – Amcha Gunha Kay?”





4th October (Thursday). 3pm to 5pm. Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh

Girish Karnad will release the CD of the songs.

Theatre persons and artistes will be present.

KABIR KALA MANCH is a group of students and professionals. It has been creating awareness about social issues through their Shahiri, protest songs and street plays in Pune. For KABIR KALA MANCH, art is much more than entertainment. It’s an anthem to denounce injustice, mobilise the oppressed, prepare them for struggle, create consciousness and ensure change.

It is for this crime that the State has declared them Naxalite since 2011. Today while Deepak Dengle and Siddharth Bhonsle are in prison, many other members including singer-poets Sheetal Sathe, Sagar Gorkhe and Sachin Mali have gone underground after threats from the police.

The CD album titled “Hi Amchi Gani – Amcha Gunha Kay?” of spirited music, decked in folk-form is a compilation of 11 songs from their earlier two albums.

The idea behind this initiative is three-fold:

– Make the KABIR KALA MANCH songs available to the people.

– Bring to light the cases against two members Deepak Dengle and Siddharth Bhonsle who were arrested on 12 May 2011 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

– Provide legal counsel and support to the members of Kabir Kala Manch.

Please do attend.


On behalf of the Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee

Anand Patwardhan, Bhai Vaidya, J V Pawar, Kamayani Mahabal, P A Sebastian, Prakash Reddy, Ramu Ramanathan, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sambhaji Bhagat, Simantini Dhuru, Sudhakar Suradkar, Sumedh Jadhav, Suneeta Rao, Teesta Setalvad, Vivek Sundara and many more.

For further information:

Contact: Kamayani Bali Mahabal: 9820749204 and Comrade Prakash Reddy: 986900684

Email: kkmdefence@gmail.com

Website: https://kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com/

The KABIR KALA MANCH Defence Committee

According to official government figures, on an average, two Dalits are killed and three raped every day across India. All the more shocking is the fact that even in Maharashtra which gave birth to major social reformists and progressive thinkers like Jyotiba Phule and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the incidence of atrocities remains unacceptably high.

In this landscape it cannot be surprising that Dalit and Adivasi youth have begun to voice their protest more openly than before. After the police killings at Ramabai colony and later, the Khairlanji massacre many protests took place. Instead of bringing the guilty to book the State responded by branding the protesters as Naxalites. Later Dalit cultural activists like Sudhir Dhawle were jailed for “sedition”.

It is in this context that the story of KABIR KALA MANCH must be understood.

KABIR KALA MANCH is a Pune based cultural troupe mainly consisting of Dalit youth from the region. First coming together against the communal carnage in Gujarat, they have taken part in innumerable public interest causes like slum-dwellers rights, workers rights and sustainable development, but their special affinity has been fighting for the annihilation of caste to which end they led from the front by promoting and publicising inter-caste marriages within the group. As a cultural troupe and as songwriters they performed for and with movements led by Medha Patkar, Bhai Vaidya, as well as with groups from the working class movement.

In 2011, the state began to brand them as Naxalites. Today while Deepak Dengle and Siddharth Bhonsle are in prison, many other members including singer-poets Sheetal Sathe, Sagar Gorkhe and Sachin Mali have gone underground after threats from the police. All are charged with being Naxalites and the ATS is using an uncritical media to plant regular allegations against the KKM. Even these allegations do not accuse the KKM of any violence, but are dependent mainly on guilt by association.

It is not so long ago that Dr Binayak Sen was similarly charged and jailed for close to three years before the Supreme Court intervened to grant him bail. Binayak Sen had by then become an international cause célèbre. It was hoped that his release on bail would put a brake on the targeting of innocent civilians for the mere “crime” of taking up the cause of the poor.

The targeting of KKM shows that this is not the case.

The KABIR KALA MANCH Defense Committee urges the government of Maharashtra to withdraw all false charges against members of the KABIR KALA MANCH, free cultural activists who are currently in prison and allow the KKM to perform in public again.

KABIR KALA MANCH Defense Committee is a group of citizens concerned with the erosion of the cultural space and the right to protest in India. It includes:

Anand Patwardhan, Bhai Vaidya, J V Pawar, Kamayani Mahabal, P A Sebastian, Prakash Reddy, Ramu Ramanathan, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sambhaji Bhagat, Simantini Dhuru, Sudhakar Suradkar, Sumedh Jadhav, Suneeta Rao, Teesta Setalvad, Vivek Sundara and many more.


In defence of the shahirs


Freny Manecksha , in Times Crest | May 26, 2012


It’s a tale of ironies. Just a few days before the uproar in Parliament over the cartoon figuring Dr Ambedkar, a poem, Kis Kis Ko Kaid Karoge, was read out at a gathering. The incandescent verses, penned by jailed poet Deepak Dengle speak of the thousands behind bars who, he believes, will one day walk free.

Dengle is in a Mumbai jail. Arrested by Maharashtra‘s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in April 2011, he and Dalit youth Siddharth Bhonsle are accused of the “crime” of being members of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). The KKM is a social and cultural organisation of Pune youths who work with many leaders of working class movements such as Narmada Bachao leader Medha Patkar and socialist leader Bhai Vaidya.

The ATS does not accuse the KKM of having engaged in any incident of violence;it says it has suspicions of the members having links with Maoists and is apprehensive of crimes they may then commit. Many of the other members of the troupe such as Sheetal Sathe, Sagar Gorkhe, Sachin Mali and Ramesh Gaichor have similar cases lodged against and have been forced to go underground.

Ironically, these cultural activists have been lauded by the establishment. Anand Patwardhan‘s critically acclaimed film Jai Bhim Comrade, which won a National Award and was also given a prize of Rs 51, 000 by the Maharashtra government, features members of the KKM. Patwardhan says he is setting up a defence panel for the embattled KKM members consisting of activists such as Bhai Vaidya, former IPS officer Sudhakar Suradkar, writer Dr Anand Teltumbde, CPI leader Prakash Reddy, actor Ratna Pathak Shah, Medha Patkar and Teesta Setalvad.

Patwardhan’s film, which is structured around Dalit culture and politics in Maharashtra over the last 15 years, was born, he says, out of the shock of Vilas Ghogre’s suicide four days after the police killings at Ramabai Colony in 1997.

Ghogre, a friend of Patwardhan, was a leftist singer-poet or shahir who hanged himself out of his intense despair and sense of injustice.

“I had filmed Vilas singing a song for the working class when I made Bombay Our City in the early 1980s and over the years I had recorded a lot of his songs on my tape recorder. But photos of him were hard to find so reconstructing his story was no easy task. I began recording other shahirs who use their art to fight a system of injustice. I wanted to see how deeply the culture had penetrated amongst the people so I recorded the songs of women like Saraswati Bhonsle, a labourer and housewife, ” says Patwardhan.

It was during the course of this distinctive style of story-telling through music and song-poetry that Patwardhan came across the Gen Next of shahirs, the KKM, who put up an electrifying performance in 2007 at Ramabai Nagar. Formed in 2003 in the aftermath of the Gujarat carnage, the troupe comprised of very young, mainly dalit, boys and girls from the poorer sections of Pune and its surrounding areas who were inspired by the music of Vilas Ghogre and other progressive dalit shahirs of the past and the present.

Patwardhan recalls, “Their music and performances had the passion of youth and they were also very gifted musicians at the same time. The subjects they tackled were of a wide spectrum. They brought huge drama and energy to the stage. ”

Among the leading lights of the KKM is Sheetal Sathe whose vibrant personality is brilliantly captured on screen especially in the feminist song-poems dedicated to a mother. Lauding her huge talent, actor Ratna Pathak Shah pointed out how effectively she conveys to people like us her empathy for her community. Speaking at the launch of the defence committee, she said this authentic voice assumes “extraordinary validity in a society where everything is second-hand”. In her youth, she added, one listened to voices from different cultures, from voices of struggles. “That voice has fallen silent. ”

Dr Ilina Sen, whose husband, Dr Binayak Sen was also jailed on charges of sedition for allegedly having links with Maoists in Chhattisgarh, finds the increasing trend of criminalising people disturbing. She says, “Although I have never viewed KKM performances live, I have seen Jai Bhim Comrade. I understand that there is no criminal act attributed to the members and even the police have said that. So labelling them is part of a mindset, a very dangerous one. ”