The Bhima Koregaon Case

Timeline of the BK16 Case

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)

BHIMA KOREGAON 16

Rona Wilson, a long-time activist of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on June 6, 2018, in Delhi. Arrested on the same charges and on the same day (June 6, 2018) were Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, and Mahesh Raut in Nagpur and Sudhir Dhawale in Mumbai. In August 2018, a series of further arrests were made in the same case – of Sudha Bharadwaj in Delhi, Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, and Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai. Seven more arrests in the case were made in 2020 – of Anand Teltumbde in Goa and Gautam Navlakha in Delhi, in April, Hany Babu in Delhi in July, Jyoti Raghoba Jagtap, Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe, and Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor in Pune in September, and Stan Swamy in Ranchi in October. All 16 have been arrested under the UAPA.

These 16 individuals work in different parts of India. Eight of them are Dalit-Bahujans (members of India’s most oppressed and stigmatized castes), four are from minority communities. They represent some of India’s most illustrious and committed human rights defenders, with long histories of writing and working for the democratic rights of India’s poorest and most oppressed: Dalits, Adivasis, (Indigenous Peoples) and women. All of them have been outspoken critics of the ideology and politics of Hindutva, the upper-caste and patriarchal Hindu supremacist ultranationalism espoused and implemented by Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Hindutva order is in direct conflict with the Indian Constitution which enshrines a “socialist, secular republic” and guarantees equal civil and political rights to all.

Profiles1

Hany Babu is an associate professor in the Department of English, Delhi University. His areas of specialisation include policy, linguistic identity, marginalised languages and social justice. He is a strong advocate of Dalit rights and has been active in helping underprivileged Dalit students obtain their scholarships and reserved seats at the University. He had also been leading the defence team seeking the release of incarcerated human rights defender G. N Saibaba. Read more about Hany Babu

Sudha Bharadwaj2 is one of India’s best known ‘people’s lawyers’. She has fought numerous battles against powerful corporate powers and the state to defend worker rights to a living and dignified wage and conditions of work, and (Adivasis) indigenous people’s constitutional rights to their land, and to expose the frequent atrocities (rape and sexual assault against women, murders, and pillage of entire villages) committed by unconstitutional state-sponsored armed militia against people resisting forced displacement. She is the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a member of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), and a founder-member of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (which is affiliated to the International Association of People’s Lawyers). Read more about Sudha Bhardwaj

Sudhir Dhawale is a Dalit civil liberties organizer and activist. He has been working as freelance journalist and full time social worker since 1995, and has been active in human rights defence work in Maharashtra. Read more about Sudhir Dhawale

Arun Ferreira is a human rights lawyer from Mumbai. He is a member of the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) and the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL). He has a long history of community organizing among urban workers and rural communities. Ferreira was arrested in 2007 in a much publicized case; over the course of four years, he had ten cases slapped against him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), none of which held up in court. He was acquitted of all charges in 2014. He was released from prison after spending four harrowing years, undergoing brutal torture and subjected to narco-analysis (which is illegal under Indian and international law). Read more about Arun Ferreira

Surendra Gadling is a human rights lawyer and General Secretary of the Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL). Among those he has represented are numerous human rights defenders arrested on fabricated charges of being anti-national. He is also a prominent Dalit rights activist. Read more about Surendra Gadling

Vernon Gonsalves is trade unionist, activist, and academic (former professor of business management in a college in Mumbai), who writes extensively on Dalit and Adivasi rights, the conditions of prisons in India, and the routine violation of rights of prisoners. Along with Arun Ferriera (see above), he has authored a number of popular articles on the condition of Indian jails, the abuse of authority by Indian police, and draconian laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).Gonsalves was previously arrested under UAPA in 2007 and kept in jail for six years before being acquitted of all the cases against him except one, which is still pending. Read more about Vernon Gonsalves

Ramesh Gaichor, Sagar Gorkhe, and Jyoti Jagtap3 are all members of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), a cultural organization founded in 2002 as a response to the pogram in Gujarat that claimed over 2000 (mostly Muslim) lives. It is now one of Pune’s foremost progressive socio-cultural movements, using music and theatre to raise awareness about casteism, patriarchy, communalism, and farmer distress. Members of the Manch are drawn largely from working-class families in the region. In 2011, the group went into hiding after two of their members were arrested under UAPA. In 2013, after they emerged from hiding, four more members were arrested, including Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor. They were released on bail in January 2017. The Kabir Kala Manch was one of the 250 Dalit and human rights organizations that organized the Elgar Parishad,

Ramesh Gaichor joined the Kabir Kala Manch in 2002 as 19-year-old commerce student in Pune’s Wadia College. He helped build up the group with his commitment to social change through art and culture. Since the Manch did not make much money through their performances, Gaichor also worked part-time jobs as a hospital clerk and a lecturer over the years. This work stopped after members of Kabir Kala Manch were accused of having links with Maoists, and Gaichor spent three years as an undertrial in jail. Read more about Ramesh Gaichor

Jyoti Jagtap joined Kabir Kala Manch in 2007. She was already known as a fiery social activist in Seva Dal, a socialist youth group in Pune district’s Saswad town. She was a psychology student at Saswad’s Waghire College at the time, and took up a range of women’s issues in her activism. In 2007, Jagtap moved to Pune city to do her Master’s degree in psychology from SP College, and joined the KKM, where she worked full-time until 2017. In 2017, in order to make ends meet, she began working with a non-profit organization working with teenagers. In the past year, she had begun taking a short course in clinical psychology, with the aim of opening her own counselling center. Read more about Jyoti Jagtap

Sagar Gorkhe joined the Kabir Kala Manch in 2004. He came from a poor Dalit family in Pune where his parents moved from suburb to suburb taking up jobs as construction workers, security guards, and domestic workers. After school, he began living in the city’s Kasewadi slum and started studying sociology at the Babasaheb Ambedkar College. As a student, he worked as a sweeper and a car cleaner to be able to pay for college, but later he worked full-time with KKM, applying his love of song and poetry to talk about people’s rights and justice. Read more about Sagar Gorkhe

Gautam Navlakha is a Delhi-based veteran journalist, author, civil liberties, human rights, and peace activist best known for his sustained critique of the Indian state’s militarism against its own citizenry in the North-Eastern states, Kashmir valley, and the central Indian forested zone in Chhattisgarh. He has been actively involved with the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) – one of India’s leading civil liberties and democratic rights defence organizations. He is well-known public intellectual, writing extensively since the 1970s in popular media and as a member of the staff & editorial team of India’s leading and internationally acclaimed academic publication, the Economic and Political Weekly(EPW). Read more about Gautam Navlakha

Varavara Rao, 80 years of age, is a well-loved Telegu poet and educator. He has some 15 poetry collections to his name. His thesis on ‘Telangana Liberation Struggle and Telugu Novel – A Study into Interconnection between Society and Literature’ is considered to be landmark in Marxist literary criticism in Telugu. Read more about Varavara Rao

Mahesh Raut recently completed an MA in Social Work from the premier Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. Following this, he was working, as recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship, on forest rights and other issues impacting Adivasis in eastern Maharashtra. Read more about Mahesh Raut

Shoma Sen was Professor and Head of the Department of English at the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University in Maharashtra. She is that rare combination – a committed scholar and teacher, and an equally committed political and social justice activist. She is a member of Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), of the national collective, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), and of theCommittee against Violence on Women (CAVOW)which has investigated major cases of sexual violence by armed forces and organized legal aid for women political prisoners during the early 2000s. Read more about Shoma Sen

Anand Teltumbde is an engineer, management expert, and academic presently teaching at the Goa Institute of Management. He is an outstanding and fearless public intellectual who has authored several trenchant critiques of Hindutva politics, neoliberal economic policies, and the attack on Dalit rights. His books and articles are regularly prescribed in courses on these subjects in universities in India and abroad. Read more about Anand Teltumbde

Stan Swamy died while in custody. He was an 83 year-old Jesuit priest who dedicated his life working closely with and defending the rights of Adivasi people against displacement by mines, land acquisition, arbitrary and unlawful arrest (on grounds of being members of the banned Maoist movement). As part of the Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee, Stan Swamy along with Sudha Bhardwaj, has questioned the illegality with which some undertrials were put in solitary confinement following the banning of their organization in 2017. Read more about Fr. Stan Swamy

Rona Wilson is the Public Relations Secretary of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP). He has spokenand written extensively on the history of anti-terror and preventive detention laws in India, and their use against those critical of the government, as well as against Muslims and Kashmiris in particular. Read more about Rona Wilson