Words from Prison – Human Rights Defender Gautam Navlakha Speaks!

Gautam Navlakha

`Under UAPA, the process itself is the punishment !’ Gautam Navlakha had stated these words before his arrest. Gautam Navlakha knew very well what his arrest under the draconian law UAPA meant for him. The process can go on without any trial. Human rights defenders like him have actively campaigned in India for the repeal of this draconian law. But now, such laws are used against the human rights defenders themselves in India.

During these days of Super Emergency, it is time that the nation comes out strongly to voice for the release of human rights defenders in India. For if this layer of significant humanists who are not afraid to speak the truth is silenced, this country would soon step into the darkness of fascism where even ordinary people like us will not be allowed to moan.

Recently, the well known documentary film maker Anand Patwardhan received a letter describing Gautam Navlakha’s situation in jail, from his partner Sahba Husain. We are reproducing the letter since no more words are necessary to describe.

-Counter Currents Collective

`A very worrying letter from Gautam’s partner Sahba Husain. Remember that Maharashtra is the epicenter of the Covid epidemic,’ says Anand Patwardhan. The letter is as follows:

Dear Anand

Gautam called me yesterday after a gap of 15 days. All I knew until then was that he was sent to a quarantine facility in Taloja on 26th May after he was suddenly shifted from Tihar jail in Delhi to Bombay. This quarantine facility runs from a school building in Taloja where new inmates are brought before being shifted to jail.

Gautam mentioned to me on the phone some of the horrific details that I am sharing with you.

He said that there are 350 inmates crowded into six class rooms in the building with Gautam having to share the room with 35 other inmates, many others sleeping in the corridors and passages. There are only 3 toilets, 7 urinals and a common bathing space without a bucket or a mug. He said that the congestion is such that apart from the fear of Covid-19, inmates are prone to skin infections too.

He also said that there is no fresh air as they are mostly locked in with no place to walk or exercise, although he manages to do his yoga as other inmates help to clear some space for him. He said he has lost 2 kg in these three weeks of prolonged quarantine and was wondering how long the authorities would keep him and the other inmates in such inhuman conditions. Taloja jail at present does not seem to have space for new prisoners such as him. Given these circumstances it worries me to think about the extreme health risk that he and other inmates are being exposed to on a daily basis.

He also mentioned how all of them are completely cut off from the outside world as there is no news flowing in or out of this quarantine facility. He wondered about what could be going on in the world outside!

I must say I am truly aghast with what he shared with me yesterday.

Despite these deplorable conditions that he described to me, he sounded well and said that he is trying his best to manage and not wilt under the sheer burden of this ordeal.

I thought I must share this with you since you have often been asking me about his well being . His lawyers and I are trying to see what can be done, although I do believe that it is important for us outside to raise our voice against this kind of inhuman treatment of a political prisoner like Gautam – and in fact all the other BK 11 currently in jail.

You must have also heard regarding Varvara Rao’s terrible and deteriorating health condition inside the jail.

The concerned authorities urgently need to look into this and make necessary amends.

Well, thanks for calling me earlier today.


Sahba Husain



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