The struggle of demanding the release of political prisoners framed under the yoke of laws like Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act i.e. UAPA is intensifying day by day. Positive that intellectuals are coming to the forefront to raise their bold voices when perils of neo-fascism are threatening the country at an unparalleled scale. Such initiatives are the last straw in saving any remnants of liberal democracy. Dissent has been crushed and democratic activists framed at a level unscaled in India .
On Thursday, January 12, at a public hearing organized by the Campaign against State Repression (CASR) in Delhi, Delhi University professor Saroj Giri courageously asserted that all political prisoners in the Bhima Koregaon and CAA-NRC cases were being tortured in the interest of preserving corporate loot.
According to a release issued by CASR, Prof. Giri says that there was no connection between the Elgar Parishad incident and the Bhima Koregaon violence, which has been proved by several international forensic reports.
It may be noted that on December 31, 2017, violence broke out at an event to mark the completion of 200 years of the Bhima-Koregaon battle on January 1 at the Elgar Parishad conference held at Shaniwarwada in Pune.
During this, the policemen fired tear gas shells and also lathi charged. Police had claimed that violence erupted out the next day near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the city. One person died and several others were injured in the violence.
One person was killed and several including 10 policemen were injured. Police had registered 58 cases against 162 people during the statewide shutdown in January following the Bhima-Koregaon clashes.
Similarly, in the year 2020, Khalid Saifi was arrested for conspiring the Delhi riots. On which his wife Nargis Saifi says that Saifi was wrongly accused of plotting ‘Delhi Riots’ 2020.
Nargis Saifi said that when any person from the Muslim community defends himself and his family, the then government expressed disapproval.. This is the reason why all democratic forces like Khalid Saifi are put behind bars.
Another political prisoner, Honey Babu, was arrested in July 2020 for alleged seditious speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conference and is currently lodged in Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai.
On these issues, Delhi University Professor Honey Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena recounted that due to his prolonged activism in universities for the rights of OBCs, Honey was wrongly framed of being part of an organization called Elgar Parishad without any concrete evidence.
He pointed out how the Elgar Parishad pledged to confront fascism and the need to unite Dalits, Bahujans, Muslims and Adivasis in the struggle against fascism. However it was accused of being a conspiratorial organization funded by the Maoists without any evidence.
Professor Saroj Giri also affirmed that thousands of tribals are languishing in prison under UAPA as a result of the merciless greed of big corporates like Adani, Ambani, Zindal and Tata etc. who are patronised by the state to loot the natural resources of the people.
Professor Anand Teltumbde, who was arrested in April 2020 in the Bhima-Korgaon case, was released from Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai on November 26, 2022. The Supreme Court dismissed the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) plea challenging the bail granted to Teltumbde.
It may be noted that on November 18, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Teltumbde. But the court has stayed its decision on the request of the NIA so that the investigation agency’s side can be heard.
Giving information about his health, DU Professor G.N. of Saibaba’s companion Vasanta questioned how the Bombay High Court reversed the decision of acquitted Saibaba in October 2022? However he continues to languish behind prison bars without any bail, as the High Court’s decision was immediately challenged in the Supreme Court. Vasantha narrated that the health of Saibaba, who is 90% disabled, is deteriorating day by day in police custody.
One of the other accused arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, Sudha Bhardwaj, a well-known labour leader and lawyer, was also granted bail on 9 December 2021 after more than three years of imprisonment. After being released, she is still not allowed to leave Mumbai due to bail conditions She was arrested on August 28, 2018.
A public meeting titled “Conspiracy in Conspiracy Matters” was held on Thursday, 12 January, at HKS Surjit Bhawan in Delhi to demand the release of political prisoners under draconian laws like UAPA.
The event was organized under the banner of Campaign against State Repression (CASR) to discuss the developments in Bhima Koregaon and CAA-NRC case. The link between the Elgar Parishad incident and the Bhima Koregaon violence was openly discussed.
All those attending the event demanded the unconditional e release of all political prisoners framed under the Bhima Koregaon and CAA-NRC cases and termination of fascist repression on all democratic, progressive activists.
Important that the working class and peasantry are drawn into such forums, and they are not limited to middle class sections or Intellectuals. A diagnosis of nature of Indian neo-fascism must be made to establish a common understanding.
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India