Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu, Stan Swamy, Sagar Tatyarao Gorakhe, Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor, Jyoti Raghoba Jagtab
The 16 detained activists have long worked to defend the rights of some of India’s poorest and most marginalized communities, including Dalits and Adivasis – India’s indigenous peoples. As poets, journalists, and advocates, they have been vocal in their criticism of government policies and therefore, have often been targets for the authorities.
– Press, Media
– Profiles of BK16
– Chronology of Events
– Legal Process
– Amnesty Documents
NIA court rejects default bail of five accused in Bhima Koregaon case (The Hindu, 28. 06. 2022)
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired, 16. 06. 2022)
As Bhima Koregaon case completes its fourth anniversary, State reprisal is writ large in its twists and turns (The Leaflet, 15. 06. 2022)
Universität. Theater. Gefängnis (Vortrag von Dr. Sruti Bala (Universiteit van Amsterdam) an der FU Berlin vom 25.05.2022)
‘Resolve to Fight for Just Society Still Alive’: Elgar Accused on Completion of 4 Years of Jail (The Wire, 06. 06. 2022)
Bhima Koregaon accused write open letter on four years of incarceration (The Hindu, 05. 06. 2022)
Another Jail Birthday For Youngest In Bhima-Koregaon Case (Article 14, 01. 07. 2020)
Irony of Sharad Pawar’s support for bhima koregaon accused (Deccan Herald, 09. 05. 2022)
Why Sharad Pawar Is Against The Bhima Koregaon 16’s Arrests (Rediff, 06. 05. 2022)
‘It is very difficult to see my mother like this’ (Rediff, 06. 05. 2022)
‘Speech within the ambit of the Constitution not anti-national’: Sharad Pawar tells Bhima Koregaon probe panel (The Leaflet, 06. 05. 2022)
International visits by Anand Teltumbde were to further maoist agenda: NIA to Mumbai Court (Bar and Bench, 05. 05. 2022)
Bhide’s name dropped from Bhima Koregaon case: Police (Hindustan Times, 05. 05. 2022)
EU human rights official says he raised communal violence, NGOs ban with Indian government (The Hindu, 29. 04. 2022)
Water, please: Ferreira says life in jail worse than animal .. Read more at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/91162891.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst (Times of India, 29. 04. 2022)
India among top 10 countries to jail writers, academics in 2021, shows Pen America’s report (Scroll.in, 15. 04. 2022)
Reflecting on the most poignant moments of last two years during Anand’s incarceration (The Leaflet, 14. 04. 2022)
Why a political prisoner is alleging his life is in danger (Times of India, 01. 04. 2022)
Stan Swamy’s death will always be stain on India’s human rights record, says UN working group (Scroll.in, 19. 03. 2022)
Exposing the machinations of authoritarian power: A profile of Vernon Gonsalves (The Polis Project, 17. 03. 2022)
Why can’t P Varavara Rao get permanent medical bail (Times of India, 09. 03. 2022)
21 European MPs Write to Modi Expressing Concern at Treatment of Rights Activists (The Wire, 08. 03. 2022)
India’s government unleashing controversial Unlawful Activities Prevention Act as means of silencing civil rights activists (Daily Maverick, 26. 01. 2022)
Sudha Bharadwaj: The prison life of India’s best-known woman activist (BBC, 11. 01. 2022)
Sudha Bharadwaj allowed to live in Thane (Indian Express, 07. 01. 2022)
Ill-Treatment of Stan Swamy in Jail Should ‘Shake Foundation of Democracy’: Fellow Prisoner (The Wire, 06. 01. 2022)
‘Recognition’ of Bhima Koregaon memorial reflects shift in narrative (The Hindu, 02. 01. 2022)
Bhima Koregaon Violence: Four Different Theories, but No Justice in Sight (The Wire, 01. 01. 2022)
Activist Rona Wilson’s phone infected with Pegasus spyware, says new forensic report (Indian Express, 18. 12. 2021)
Arsenal Report No. 4 Confirms Pegasus Attack on IPhone of Rona Wilson, Key BK Accused (Countercurrents, 17. 12. 2021)
Rona Wilson’s iPhone Infected With Pegasus Spyware, Says New Forensic Report (The Wire, 17. 12. 2021)
Bhima Koregaon case: Sudha Bharadwaj to be released on cash bond (The Hindu, 08. 12. 2021)
Elgar Parishad Case: Surendra Gadling Says Jail Authorities Denying Him Medicines (The Wire, 07. 12. 2021)
Activist Sudha Bharadwaj a free woman now (Afternoon Voice, 07. 12. 2021)
SC dismisses NIA’s appeal, confirms Sudha Bharadwaj’s release on bail (The Leaflet, 07. 12. 2021)
Sudha Bharadwaj bail (The Hindu, 07. 12. 2021)
Sudha Bharadwaj bail: how HC spelt out limitations of sessions court (Indian Express, 03. 12. 2021)
https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/nia-moves-supreme-court-against-bombay-high-courts-order-granting-bail-to-sudha-bharadwaj-in-bhima-koregaon-case-186832 (Live Law, 02. 12. 2021)
Bombay High Court Grants Default Bail To Sudha Bharadwaj In Bhima Koregaon Case; Refuses Bail To 8 Other Accused (Live Law, 01. 12. 2021)
‘Urban Naxals’, Sharad Pawar’s U-Turn and What it Means for Efforts to Ensure Justice for Activists (The Wire, 22. 11. 2021)
Swiss Trade Union Women’s Congress passes resolution calling for the release of Sudha Bharadwaj (InSAF India, Nov. 2021)
Elgaar Parishad case: Maoist leader linked to ‘plot to kill PM Modi’ arrested in Jharkhand (Indian Express, 13. 11. 2021)
‘Legal Row’: Penguin Censors Poems, Then Stalls Varavara Rao’s Book Indefinitely (The Quint, 09. 11. 2021)
Explained: Bhima Koregaon Commission (The Hindu, 05. 11. 2021)
As Sudha Bharadwaj Spends 4th Birthday in Jail, a Reminder That UAPA Enables Her Incarceration (The Wire, 03. 11. 2021)
How the ‘anda cell’ is used to discipline prison inmates (Indian Express, 28. 10. 2021)
Gautam Navlakha’s health has worsened in jail, not being allowed phone calls, says his partner (Scroll.in, 24. 10. 2021)
Phone calls, daily walks in jail’s green area stopped, says Navlakha’s partner (The Hindu, 24. 10. 2021)
Deciphering human rights activist Father Stan Swamy (The Tribune, 17. 10. 2021)
Prakash Louis: ‘We need many more Stan Swamys’ (Frontline, Oct. 2021)
Memories of the Father of Our Movements, Father Stan Swamy (Economic & Political Weekly, July 2021)
‘Stan Swamy’s Death was an Institutional Murder’: Co-inmates write to Uddhav Thackeray (Newsclick, 06. 10. 2021)
Shoma Sen, Sudha Bharadwaj facing serious danger to lives in prison: Family and friends (Maktoob, 28. 09. 2021)
Video: Stan Swamy – A Requiem for Justice (Karwan e Mohabbat, India, Sept. 2021)
Varavara Rao Need Not Surrender Till September 25: Bombay HC Extends Interim Medical Bail (The Wire, 06. 09. 2021)
Father Stan Swamy’s struggle to be taken to panchayats (The Telegraph, 29. 08. 2021)
Three years since Bhima Koregaon arrests (The Hindu, 27. 08. 2021)
10 Elghar Parishad accused allege Taloja Superintendent scans and saves their letters (The Hindu, 26. 08. 2021)
Elgar case: What NIA draft charges submitted in court say, against whom (Indian Express, 25. 08. 2021)
Video: Solidaritätsaktionen in London, Zürich, Berlin: Demand Justice India: International Protest (20. 08. 2021)
Mumbai: Permit Stan Swamy’s next of kin to clear his name, HC told (Times of India, 20. 08. 2021)
Father Stan Swamy Has Right To Have His Name Cleared : Jesuits Approach Bombay High Court (Live Law, 19. 08. 2021)
Rona Wilson: When contesting repressive laws makes you a dangerous citizen: a profile of Rona Wilson (The Polis Project, Sep. 2020)
The Steep Fall Of Dissent In India (Feminism in India, 18. 08. 2021)
Taloja Jail Must Ensure Timely Medical Treatment for Hany Babu: Bombay HC (The Wire, 18. 08. 2021)
A death and its clues (The Telegraph, 16. 08. 2021)
Kelvi Koothu: A tribute to Fr Stan Swamy and other jailed activists in India (DT Next, 15. 08. 2021)
The unravelling of a conspiracy: were the 16 charged with plotting to kill India’s prime minister framed? (The Guardian, 12. 08. 2021)
How the system broke Stan Swamy: A cell mate recalls the activist’s last days in prison (Scroll.in, 12. 08. 2021)
Defend Democracy NOW! (Matters India, Aug. 2021)
Inhaftiert wegen des Einsatzes für Kastenlose (Amnesty Journal, 10. 08. 2021)
People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Report on Stan Swamy: Framed to Die: The Case of Stan Swamy (PUDR, 06. 08. 2021)
Pegasus Findings: Former Top Cops Call For Relook at Case Against Elgar Parishad 16 (The Wire, 05. 08. 2021)
Pegasus attack has serious implications for rule of law, say senior retired police officers (The Hindu, 05. 08. 2021)
What Father Stan Swamy’s ‘Custodial murder’ means for Indian Human Rights: how #FatherStanSwamy’s “custodial murder” is sparking new demands for justice in India + how international pressure is key (New Statesman, 25. 07. 2021)
Stan Swamy – A Requiem for Justice | Shashi Tharoor (Mathrubhumi, 26. 07. 2021)
When Letters From Amnesty International Gave Strength and Hope to Advani During the Emergency (The Wire, 01. 10. 2020)
India pushes back against US human rights discourse (The Times of India, 26. 07. 2021)
US: Antony Blinken will raise issues related to ‘human rights and democracy’ with India (The Telegraph, 25. 07. 2021)
Bhima Koregaon activists were also victims of an unidentified hacker: Indian activists jailed on terrorism charges were on list with surveillance targets (Washington Post, 20. 07. 2021)
From Ambedkarites and Labour Activists to Umar Khalid and JNU Students, Snoop List Targets All (The Wire, 20. 07. 2021)
Pegasus Spyware Used Against Friends & Kin of Bhima Koregaon Accused: Report (The Quint, 19. 07. 2021)
Leaked Data Shows Surveillance Net in Elgar Parishad Case May Have Crossed a Line (The Wire, 18. 07. 2021)
UN: Fr. Swamy’s death in custody “a stain on India’s human rights record” (Vatican News, 16. 07. 2021)
Floyd and Swamy (The Statesman, 14. 07. 2021)
It’s time victims of UAPA demanded restitution, justice (Indian Express, 14. 07. 2021)
Maharashtra govt. rejects plea of Bhima-Koregaon accused (The Hindu, 13. 07. 2021)
How Father Stan Swamy’s “custodial murder” is sparking new demands for justice in India (New Statesman, 12. 07. 2021)
Jailed to die: Father Stan Swamy’s legacy will live on (The American Bazaar, 06. 07. 2021)
Video: Bhima Koregaon – Elgar Parishad Case (The Whole Story, 12. 07. 2021)
Video: The Whole Story: Father Stan Swamy – 06 July, 2021 (Faye Dsouza)
How are Indian Human Rights Defenders Targeted by a coordinated spyware operation: Dispatches Ep13(A) How are Indian Human Rights Defenders Targeted by a coordinated spyware operation (The Polis Project, 07. 07. 2021)
Explainer: Arsenal Report on Surendra Gadling (The Leaflet, 07. 07. 2021)
Pater Stan Swamy gestorben – Death in Custody:
Missio-Präsident: „Die Repressionen nehmen zu“ (Deutschlandfunk, 08. 07. 2021)
Stan Swamy’s death in custody calls for national introspection (The Mint, 08. 07. 2021)
Stan Swamy: India outrage over death of jailed activist (BBC, 07. 07. 2021)
A death foretold: On activist Stan Swamy’s death (The Hindu, 07. 07. 2021)
Video: Did The Criminal Justice System Fail Father Stan Swamy? | Left, Right & Centre (NDTV, 05. 07. 2021)
Video: Fr Stan Swamy SJ RIP Condolence Meet (Indian Social Institute, 05. 07. 2021)
No more custodial deaths of political prisoners! Prosecute them if you have evidence, or else, let them go (Times of India, 05. 07. 2021)
Killing Him Softly With His Song: A Requiem for Father Stan Swamy (The Wire, 05. 07. 2021)
Stan Swamy: Jailed activist dies at 84 (BBC, 05. 07. 2021)
elgar-parishad-taloja-jail-prison-maharashtra (The Wire, 29. 06. 2021)
Webinar organized by International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India: Jailed to die? India’s incarcerated human rights defenders and the Covid emergency (19 June, 2021)
Radio: Die Bhima-Koreagon-16; politische Gefangene in Indien (Radio FRO, 14. 06. 2021)
India as natural ally of open societies (Times of India, 14. 06. 2021)
Amid India’s COVID-19 crisis, advocates raise alarm over growing number of political prisoners behind bars (The Globe and Mail, 12. 06. 2021)
How Dissent Dies (The Atlantic, 12. 06. 2021)
Immediate Justice needed in Bhima-Koregaon Conspiracy (The Milli Gazette, 12. 06. 2021)
BK16 Solidarity in Zurich, Berlin, Cambridge, Dundee and Online (pics) (Free-Them-All.net, 12. 06. 2021)
Amnesty International demonstriert in Zürich für indische Aktivistinnen (Aargauer Zeitung, 12. 06. 2021)
Amnesty International demonstriert in Zürich für indische Aktivistinnen (Badener Tagblatt, 12. 06. 2021)
Amnesty International demonstriert in Zürich für indische Aktivistinnen (bzbasel, 12. 06. 2021)
Aktionstag in Zürich für indische Menschenrechtsaktivist*innen im Gefängnis (kath.ch, 12. 06. 2021)
‘Release the Bhima Koregaon 16 Immediately’: Nobel Laureates, EU MPs Write to Indian Authorities (The Wire, 11. 06. 2021)
Video-Meeting: Three years too many – The Bhima Koregaon Conspiracy Case (PUCL, 11. 06. 2021)
‘Trial Judge Not Authorised’: Sudha Bharadwaj Moves Bombay HC For Default Bail (The Wire, 11. 06. 2021)
‘Release the Bhima Koregaon 16 Immediately’: Nobel Laureates, EU MPs Write to Indian Authorities (The Wire, 11. 06. 2021)
Video: Everything you wanted to know about the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon “conspiracy” but didn’t know who to ask: Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad (Karwan e Mohabbat, 11. 06. 2021, Hindi)
Prominent international figures urge release of human rights defenders in India (Easterntimes, 10. 06. 2021)
Arun Ferreira: The trials of a political prisoner (Fountainink, 05. 04. 2012)
Violating the rights of older persons: Why Stan Swamy’s continued detention is so unjust (Scroll.in, 10. 06. 2021)
Libérez Sudha et tous les autres! (L’Évenement Syndical, 09. 06. 2021)
Bhima Koregaon: Marking three years since the first arrest (The Leaflet, 07. 06. 2021)
Release Stan Swamy on humanitarian grounds, says German human rights commissioner (Scroll.in, 03. 06. 2021)
Activist Stan Swamy tests positive for coronavirus after being moved to private hospital (Scroll.in, 30. 05. 2021)
Two Days After HC Orders Hospitalisation, Stan Swamy Tests Positive for COVID-19 (The Wire, 30. 05. 2021)
Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo Re: Detention of minority-rights advocates in India (American Bar Association, 28. 05. 2021)
Activist Stan Swamy seeks interim bail, says he can’t walk or eat (The Hindu, 21. 05. 2021)
‘I’d Like to Be With My Own,’ Stan Swamy Tells Bombay HC as His Health Deteriorates (The Wire, 21. 05. 2021)
‘I Would Rather Suffer, Possibly Die Very Shortly If This Were To Go On’ : Stan Swamy Pleads For Interim Bail In Bombay HC https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/stan-swamy-interacts-with-bombay-hc-for-interim-bail-bhima-koregaon-case-174477 (Live Law, 21. 05. 2021)
Bombay HC Says Committee of Doctors Required to Examine Stan Swamy (The Wire, 19. 05. 2021)
Solidarität mit politischen Gefangenen in Indien (Solifonds, 18. 05. 2021)
Father Stan Swamy finally gets first Covid shot, health continues to deteriorate in jail (Sabrangindia, 18. 05. 2021)
Stan Swamy Covid positive? Jesuits, family worried (Matters India, 16. 05. 2021)
Elgaar Parishad case: Family & friends of 16 prisoners demand their immediate release (Indian Express, 16. 05. 2021)
Increasing worldwide demand for release of political prisoners in Covid times (Countercurrents, 16. 05. 2021)
A daughter struggles for the release of her mother (Countercurrents, 16. 05. 2021)
Bhima Koregaon, COVID-19 and custodial apathy in jails / Video + Press Release (Sabrang, 15. 05. 2021)
Covid-19 a virtual death sentence, new persecution tool against Bhima-Koregaon accused (Sabrang, 15. 05. 2021)
Jailed Professor Hany Babu Hospitalised With Eye Infection, Tests Positive for COVID (The Wire, 14. 05. 2021)
Bhima Koregaon undertrials susceptible to rapid deterioration of health in the event of COVID-19: Family members (The Caravan, 13. 05. 2021)
Elgar Parishad: Family of accused write to CM, seek release on bail (Hindustan Times, 13. 05. 2021)
Plea for release of the Bhima Koregaon (BK) detainees during COVID-19 pandemic (Countercurrents, 12. 05. 2021)
Human rights defender Hany Babu denied medical treatment in Taloja Jail (Frontlinedefenders, 12. 05. 2021)
Family of Hany Babu says his life in prison is in danger (Maktoob, 11. 05. 2021)
Elgar Case: DU Professor Hany Babu Denied Medical Care After Developing Eye Infection (The Wire, 11. 05. 2021)
Elgar Parishad case: Bombay HC says Stan Swamy entitled to bail, issues notice to NIA (India Today, 04. 05. 2921)
‘An Innocent Hany Babu Has Spent Nine Months in Jail’: An Appeal From His Family (The Wire, 04. 05. 2021)
Mostly Dalits, Adivasis, 97% undertials ‘falsely’ accused, release them, demands JMM (Counterview, 28. 04. 2021)
Video: Father Stan Swamy Turns 84 In Jail (Karwan e Mohabhat, 24. 04. 2021)
Indien – gefangen in seinen Kasten (Radio SRF, 24. 04. 2021)
Bhima Koregaon case shows ‘deteriorating democracy’ in India: Panelists at US congressional briefing (Scroll.in, 23. 04. 2021)
There Is No Case. Release the Bhima Koregaon 16 and Compensate Them (The Wire, 21. 04. 2021)
In Bhima-Koregaon case, new forensic report shows how hacker planted key files on accused’s computer (Scroll.in, 21. 04. 2021)
Further evidence in case against Indian activists accused of terrorism was planted, new report says (Washington Post, 21. 04. 2021)
India’s Hindu Nationalist Project Relies on Brutal Repression (Jacobin Magazine, 16. 04. 2021)
Why isn’t the government looking for the source of ‘Modi assassination’ malware on Rona Wilson’s PC? (Scroll.in, 03. 04. 2021)
Activist Stan Swamy Conspired With Maoists To Overthrow Government: Court (NDTV, 23. 03. 2021)
Video: The strange case against the Bhima Koregaon political prisoners (The Polis Project, 08. 03. 2021)
The strange case against the Bhima Koregaon political prisoners (The Polis Project, 08. 03. 2021)
Video: Elgar Parishad Case: US Based Forensic Firm Reports Key Evidence Was Planted I Bhima Koregaon (The Wire, 11. 02. 2021)
Solidarität für Pater Swamy und weitere Inhaftierte (Jesuiten Weltweit, 10. 12. 2020)
Why An Aged Defender Of The Deprived Faces Terror Charges (Article-14, 04. 11. 2020)
Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote: The two who brought Mumbai to a halt (Economic Times, 03. 01. 2018)
BK16 Solidarity from Europe, 12 June 2021
– Postcard action: Join InSAF India in writing solidarity messages to the BK-16. InSAF India will regularly collect the messages and send them to the Taloja and Byculla prisons: Postcard to Prison #postcardtoprison
– Solifonds und Zürcher Frauenrechtsgruppe von Amnesty International Schweiz: Petition an die indische Regierung: Wir fordern die Freilassung der 16 politischen Gefangenen des Bhima-Koregaon-Falls (31. 05. 2021)
Profiles of BK16
Sudha Bharadwaj is a lawyer, trade unionist and a civil rights activist. She worked in Chhattisgarh for about three decades until her arrest on August 28, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code.
Sudha served as the General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Vice President of the Indian Association for People’s Lawyers. She founded Janhit, a collective of lawyers and was also associated with the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha. She also taught law students at the National Law University, Delhi.
In association with the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Sudha ensured that mine workers, mostly from Dalit and tribal communities in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh receive employment contracts which mandated minimum wages, health benefits and safer working conditions for them.
As a human rights lawyer, she has represented victims of extrajudicial killings and other human rights defenders before the Chhattisgarh High Court and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
In March 2019, Sudha was honoured by Harvard Law School for “astounding contributions of women around the world to the areas of law and policy”.
A bail plea on medical grounds for Sudha Bharadwaj has been denied by the Bombay High Court.
Arun Ferreira is an activist based in Mumbai. He had been organizing marginalised communities against the injustices faced by them since his student years in the 90s, until his arrest on August 28, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Once before, in 2007, the Maharashtra State Government had arrested Arun claiming that he was in charge of the Propaganda and Communications wing of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). However, seven years later, in 2014, the court acquitted Arun of all charges stating lack of substantial evidence against him in the charge sheet filed by the police. Throughout the trial, Arun was kept imprisoned.
In his book, “Colours of the Cage: A Prison Memoir”, Arun described his life in jail, his experience with a prejudiced criminal justice system and the loneliness of solitary confinement.
Surendra Gadling is a human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist based in Nagpur, Maharashtra. He was arrested on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Before his arrest, Surendra took up cases of extrajudicial killings by police and other atrocities committed against Dalits and Adivasis in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. He served as a Special Public Prosecutor in dowry-related cases and was also one of the leading lawyers in the case related to the Khairlanji agitation – a protest movement launched after the gruesome caste-murders of a Dalit family in Maharashtra.
Surendra also represented Arun Ferreira in court from 2007 to 2012 and was key in securing his acquittal on all charges.
Mahesh Raut is an activist who has worked with Adivasi communities in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. He studied at the Tata Institute for Social Sciences, Mumbai and worked as a Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow in 2012 in Gadchiroli. The fellow is required to spend one year in public service and work towards reducing poverty and improving the lives of people in rural India. He was arrested on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
As a Fellow, Mahesh was actively involved in strengthening Gram Sabhas (local self-governance system) in Adivasi areas.
Mahesh is also a co-convener of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vilas Andolan, which fights against the displacement of marginalised communities. He has campaigned against mining projects which threaten to displace the Adivasi communities and the local ecology.
Mahesh Raut has tested positive for Covid19. His bail plea has been rejected by the Bombay High Court.
Prior to her arrest on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges, Shoma Sen headed the English Department of Nagpur University in Maharashtra. Shoma is a member of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights and has been a long-time Dalit and women’s rights activist, advocating for the rights of the marginalised communities.
Shoma played a key role in organising legal aid for women political prisoners in the early 2000s. She was part of many fact-finding commissions that looked into the atrocities committed by the security forces in Manipur and allegations of sexual violence against Adivasis in Chhattisgarh.
A bail plea on medical grounds for Shoma Sen has been denied by the Bombay High Court.
Delhi-based Rona Wilson has worked with the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners and has consistently campaigned for the release of political prisoners in India who were arrested under repressive laws like the UAPA.
He was arrested on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Rona was also a key member of the Committee for the Defence and Release of GN Saibaba—a Delhi University professor who was convicted in March 2017 for having links to the Maoists. Despite being severely disabled, Professor Saibaba was held in solitary confinement by the authorities which has further deteriorated his health.
Sudhir Dhawale is an activist, actor and publisher of the bi-monthly Marathi magazine Vidrohi which focuses on issues relating to labour, land, education, health and caste. He was arrested on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Earlier in 2011, Sudhir was arrested by the Maharashtra Police for “conspiring and waging war against the Government of India”. After more than three years, the courts ordered for the release of Sudhir stating lack of substantial evidence against him.
Sudhir was one of the organisers of the ‘Elgar Parishad’, a meeting organised by Dalit organisations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.
Vernon Gonsalves is a Mumbai-based activist who worked for the rights of labourers until his arrest on August 28, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
In 2007, Gonsalves was arrested under the Arms Act and the UAPA. He had remained incarcerated until 2013, when he was finally convicted of the charges but ordered to be released by the court since he had already undergone the period of his sentence as an undertrial.
Varavara Rao is a poet and civil rights activist based in Telangana. He was arrested on August 28, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code. Varavara founded the Revolutionary Writers’ Association. He has been arrested several times in the past, including for conspiring to overthrow the Andhra Pradesh Government but has always been acquitted.
Varavara Rao was granted bail for 6 months on medical grounds.
Gautam Navlakha, 65, a Delhi-based journalist was the secretary of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights and is an editorial consultant for the journal Economic and Political Weekly. He has written about human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, and is a vocal critic of repressive laws.
Anand Teltumbde has written extensively about the caste system in India and has advocated for the rights of Dalits. In his newspaper columns, he has been critical of the Narendra Modi government, especially over issues of social welfare and the persecution of human rights defenders in the country.
On 28 July 2020, The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Delhi University professor MT Hany Babu. He teaches at Delhi University’s English department and is a well-known anti-caste activist. Hany Babu has specialised in Language Ideology, Politics and Policy, Linguistic Identity, Linguistic Debates, Marginalised Languages and Social Justice. He is also a member of the committee formed to defend GN Saibaba, a former Delhi University professor who is currently serving a life term for his links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). The NIA had summoned Hany Babu for interrogation on 15 July. Speaking to media outlets, Hany Babu described the NIA summon as “harassment”. “They are asking me to travel to Mumbai in the middle of a pandemic,” which is “not just a health hazard to me but also to my family”. The NIA claims that Hanu Babu was a co-conspirator in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon riots case and had been “propagating” Maoist activities and ideology.
Father Stan Swamy was arrested by the National Investigative Agency on 08 October 2020. The 83-year-old Jesuit priest and a Adivasi rights activist based in Jharkhand has worked for over three decades on various issues of land, forest and labour rights. Two days before his arrest, the 83-year-old Jesuit priest said in a statement, “I have challenged the “indiscriminate” arrest of thousands of young Adivasis with investigating agencies labelling them as “Naxals”. My work involved expressing dissent with several policies of the government, and laws enacted in violation of the Constitution. This, I believe, is the main reason why the state is keen to put me out of the way. The most feasible way is to implicate me in serious cases and stall the judicial process to give justice to the poor innocent Adivasis. I would just add that what is happening to me is not unique. Many activists, lawyers, writers, journalists, student leaders, poets, intellectuals and others who stand for the rights of Adivasis, Dalits and the marginalised and express their dissent to the ruling powers of the country are being targeted.”The NIA claims that Father Stan Swamy was a convenor of Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), which it claimed was a frontal organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist). The NIA has also claimed that it had recovered incriminating documents, literature and propaganda from him.
After Father Stan had tested positive for Covid-19, he was shifted to a private hospital where he was receiving treatment. He died in custody on 5 July 2021.
On 7 September 2020, human rights defenders Sagar Tatyarao Gorakhe and Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor were arrested by the NIA. Sagar and Ramesh are part of the Kabir Kala Manch, a Pune based cultural troupe. Their performances speak out against the caste system and the various atrocities committed against the community across the country. A day before they were arrested, Sagar posted a video statement on Kabir Kala Manch’s Facebook page where he claimed that the NIA was forcing them to become a State witness and tender an apology. Sagar said in the video, “NIA asked us to write an apology and told us that we will be released if we do so. We refused. We might be arrested today”. As part of Kabir Kala Manch, the two performed at the ‘Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerana Abhiyan’ on 31 December 2017, a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Dalit victory over the Peshwas (upper caste rulers) in the Battle of Koregaon. A day later, On 1 January 2018, the Dalits who had gathered in Bhima Koregaon, were attacked by members of hard-line Hindu groups which led to the Bhima Koregaon riots.
Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor have tested positive for Covid19. Their bail pleas have been rejected by the Bombay High Court.
On 8 September 2020, human rights defender, Jyoti Jagtap was arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad in Pune, and then later brought to the NIA office in Mumbai. Jyoti is part of the Kabir Kala Manch, a Pune based cultural troupe. Their performances speak out against the caste system and the various atrocities committed against the community across the country. As part of Kabir Kala Manch, Jyoti along with Sagar Tatyarao Gorkhe and Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor performed at the ‘Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerana Abhiyan’ on 31 December 2017, a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Dalit victory over the Peshwas (upper caste rulers) in the Battle of Koregaon. A day later, On 1 January 2018, the Dalits who had gathered in Bhima Koregaon, were attacked by members of hard-line Hindu groups which led to the Bhima Koregaon riots.
Worsening prison conditions during Covid-19 pandemic:
Father Stan, Mahesh Raut, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor have tested positive for Covid19. Their bail pleas have been rejected by the Bombay High Court.
But 84 year old Father Stan has been shifted to a private hospital where he is recieving treatment. The court will hear the bail plea for Father Stan on 14 June.
Meanwhile, several prison staff and inmates have tested positive for Covid19 in the Byculla Jail and the Taloja jail where the BK16 are being held.
The bail pleas on medical grounds for others like Sudha Bharadwaj and Shoma Sen who are above 60 years old have been denied by the court.
The only person to get bail so far in the Bhima Koregaon case is Varavara Rao. He was granted bail for 6 months on medical grounds.
Chronology of Events:
In a series of massive crackdown on activists, advocates and human rights defenders, the Maharashtra state police in June 2018 arrested human rights defenders and activists, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut. Then in August 2018, the Maharashtra police arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao in August 2018.
On 25 January 2020, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the Bhima Koregaon investigations from the Maharashtra state police. This came after the new Maharashtra state government had raised several questions regarding the police investigations and had also asked for probe against police officials for the manner in which the investigation was conducted. The transfer of the case to the NIA is seen by many as part of the ongoing crackdown by the Narendra Modi government on human rights defenders in the country.
On 17 March 2020, the Supreme Court of India refused to grant anticipatory bail to Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha and directed them to surrender to the Pune police within three weeks in connection with the case. Anand Teltumbde is a scholar and an activist. Gautam Navlakha is a journalist and also an activist. The two were named by the police along with the other nine activists for their involvement in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon riots.
On 14 April 2020, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde surrendered before the NIA. They are now in NIA custody.
All the activists were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and several sections of the Indian Penal Code. On 29 August 2018, activists and academics filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking the release of the five activists detained in August and an independent investigation into their arrests. Stating that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy,” the Supreme Court initially ordered that these five activists who were arrested in August should be placed under house arrest and not in police custody.
On 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court held that the arrests were not an attempt to repress dissent and dismissed the petition, extended the house arrest for four more weeks, and instructed the activists to pursue relief in lower courts. [Something that can be done under the UAPA]
Police allege that the 11 activists incited a group of Dalits, formerly referred to as “untouchables,” at a large public rally on 31 December 2017. Violent clashes erupted the next day, leading to one death and several injured.
Hundreds of Dalits had gathered in Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra on 1 January to commemorate a 200-year-old battle in which Dalit soldiers of the British army defeated the ruling Peshwas. Hindu nationalist groups and alleged supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) objected to the celebration, calling it anti-national for celebrating a colonial victory. The organizers of the Dalit rally said they wanted to campaign against the pervasive ideology in India that leads to attacks on Dalits and Muslims.
Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu, Stan Swamy, Sagar Tatyarao Gorkhe, Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor, Jyoti Raghoba Jagtab
Die 16 inhaftierten Aktivistinnen und Aktivisten haben seit vielen Jahren für die Verteidigung der Rechte einiger der ärmsten und marginalisierten Gemeinschaften Indiens gearbeitet, darunter Dalits und Adivasis, Indiens indigene Völker. Als Schriftsteller, Journalisten und Anwälte haben sie die Regierungspolitik lautstark kritisiert und waren daher oft Zielscheibe der Behörden.
Chronologie der Ereignisse
In einer Reihe massiver Razzien gegen Aktivistinnen, Anwälte und Menschenrechtsverteidiger verhaftete die Polizei des Bundesstaats Maharashtra im Juni 2018 die Menschenrechtsverteidiger und Aktivist_innen Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen und Mahesh Raut. Im August 2018 wurden Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao verhaftet.
Am 25. Januar 2020 übernahm die National Investigation Agency (NIA) die Ermittlungen von Bhima Koregaon von der Polizei des Bundesstaats. Dies geschah, nachdem die neue Regierung von Maharashtra mehrere Fragen zu den polizeilichen Ermittlungen aufgeworfen und auch eine Untersuchung gegen Polizeibeamte wegen der Art und Weise der Durchführung der Ermittlungen beantragt hatte. Die Übertragung des Falls an die NIA wird von vielen als Teil des anhaltenden Vorgehens der Regierung Narendra Modi gegen Menschenrechtsverteidiger im Land angesehen.
Am 17. März 2020 weigerte sich der Oberste Gerichtshof von Indien, Anand Teltumbde und Gautam Navlakha eine Vorabfreilassung auf Kaution (anticipatory bail) zu gewähren, und wies sie an, sich im Zusammenhang mit dem Fall innerhalb von drei Wochen der Polizei in Pune zu ergeben. Anand Teltumbde ist Gelehrter und Aktivist. Gautam Navlakha ist Journalist und ebenfalls Aktivist. Die beiden wurden von der Polizei zusammen mit den anderen neun Aktivisten als Beteiligte an den Unruhen in Bhima Koregaon im Jahr 2018 benannt. Am 14. April 2020 stellten sich Gautam Navlakha und Anand Teltumbde der NIA. Sie befinden sich nun in NIA-Haft.
Alle Aktivist_innen wurden aufgrund des Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) und mehrerer Bestimmungen des indischen Strafgesetzbuchs festgenommen. Am 29. August 2018 reichten Aktivisten und Wissenschaftler beim Obersten Gerichtshof einen Antrag auf Freilassung der fünf im August inhaftierten Aktivist_innen ein und forderten eine unabhängige Untersuchung ihrer Festnahme. Der Oberste Gerichtshof erklärte zunächst, dass „Dissens das Sicherheitsventil der Demokratie ist“ und dass die fünf Aktivist_innen unter Hausarrest gestellt, nicht in Polizeigewahrsam genommen werden sollten.
Am 28. September 2018 entschied der Oberste Gerichtshof dann, dass die Festnahmen kein Versuch waren, Dissens zu unterdrücken, und wies den Antrag auf Freilassung zurück. Er verlängerte den Hausarrest um weitere vier Wochen und wies die Aktivisten an, ihr Gesuch an untere Gerichtsinstanzen zu richten (was unter UAPA möglich ist).
Die Polizei behauptet, elf Aktivist_innen hätten bei einer großen öffentlichen Kundgebung am 31. Dezember 2017 eine Gruppe von Dalits, früher als „Unberührbare“ bezeichnet, angestiftet. Am nächsten Tag kam es zu gewaltsamen Zusammenstößen, die zu einem Todesfall und mehreren Verletzten führten. Hunderte Dalits hatten sich am 1. Januar in Bhima Koregaon bei Pune in Maharashtra versammelt, um an eine Schlacht vor 200 Jahren zu erinnern, in der Dalit-Soldaten als Teil der britischen Armee die in Maharashtra regierenden Peshwas besiegten. Hindunationalistische Gruppen und mutmaßliche Anhänger der regierenden Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lehnten die Feier ab und nannten sie anti-national, um einen kolonialen Sieg zu feiern. Die Organisatoren der Dalit-Kundgebung sagten, sie wollten gegen eine allgegenwärtige Ideologie in Indien kämpfen, die zu Angriffen auf Dalits und Muslime führt.
Briefe gegen das Vergessen (Juli 2020, German)
Urgent Action: GEWALTLOSE POLITISCHE GEFANGENE FREILASSEN! (April 2020, German)
Urgent Action: CRACKDOWNON DISSENT CONTINUES DURING COVID-19 (April 2020)
Video: Bhima Koregaon 11: Heroes Who Fight For Your Rights (07. 06. 2019)
Petition an die indische Regierung: Wir fordern die Freilassung der 16 politischen Gefangenen des Bhima-Koregaon-Falls (Solifonds und Zürcher Frauenrechtsgruppe von Amnesty International Schweiz, 31. 05. 2021)