One year passed since the abduction-arrest of GN Saibaba by Indian state. With a 90 per cent disability Saibaba is lecturer of English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University and he is being deprived of proper medication and care that is needed for his safety and life. In the year he’s been in prison, his physical condition has deteriorated alarmingly. He is in constant, excruciating pain.
But he is denied of bail like many other in India and his ‘crime’ is to speak for the oppressed masses, Adivaisi, Dalits and Muslims.
To know more about him and his case (and many others), read Arundhati Roy’s article at:
The theatrical trailer of COURT, a winner of 17 International awards An Indian reviewer said the film is a “remarkably assured, engrossing study of the power of the law and order machinery to crush protest through delays, deferred hearings and demands for further evidence.” Forbes magazine in India said Chaitanya Tamhane, the director, is “Indian cinema’s new voice of subversion.”
Synopsis:A sewerage worker’s dead body is found inside a manhole in Mumbai. An ageing folk singer is tried in court on charges of abetment of suicide. He is accused of performing an inflammatory song which might have incited the worker to commit the act. As the trial unfolds, the personal lives of the lawyers and the judge involved in the case are observed outside the court.
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A Law Less Majestic
Sanctioned by an archaic law and other draconian legislation, “sedition against the state” is a handy tool to fell voices of dissent
SEDITION — Section 124A, Indian Penal Code, 1860: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India.” Punishment: Fine, or imprisonment of three years to life. Shall be punished with 104 (imprisonment for life), to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine. Exception: Criticism, to be determined by the judiciary
UAPA —Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967:Following a constitutional amendment, UAPA was enacted to “impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, on the (i) freedom of speech and expression (ii) right to assemble peaceably and without arms and (iii) right to form associations or unions”
Punishment: Penalties ranging from five years to life imprisonment along with fines. If the offence leads to loss of life, a death sentence can be awarded. Unlawful associations: Secessionist and terrorist associations; to be determined and notified by ministry of home affairs
Behind every man who has been labelled ‘seditious’ by the State is a law that goes back 155 years. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code dates to 1860, three years after the British were rattled by what came to be known as the Sepoy Mutiny. There is also the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a handy tool to silence ‘dangerous’ people with ‘dangerous’ ideas. Why, a week before it was held unconstitutional, Samajwadi Party leader and UP cabinet minister Azam Khan used Section 66A of the Information Technology Act to penalise a Class 11 student in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh.
The police are arbitrary and indiscriminate in the use of the sedition law, arresting people even for activities like singing, acting in street plays, reciting poems, painting graffiti on walls, not standing up during the national anthem or for cheering the Pakistani cricket team. These have, of course, usually accompanied the more serious charges of sympathising, funding or acting with Maoists or suspected terror organisations.
(Press Note circulated in the Press Conference held on the 14th of September in Professor GN Saibaba’s house along with the report on proceedings)
On Thursday, 12 September 2013, a 50 strong police contingent drawn from the Maharashtra Police Force, the Delhi Police Special Cell and the Maurice Nagar police thana, raided the residence of Dr. Saibaba, an Asst. Prof. in English at Ram Lal Anand College. They brought computer technicians with them. Dr. Saibaba, his wife and their minor 15-year old daughter were detained for about four hours from 3.00 PM onward for an investigation into the use of his residence “as a place for the deposit of stolen property”. Immediately, the iron main gate of the house and the house door itself were locked from within and physically barred by police personnel, and phones of all including the driver were seized. The driver’s phone was destroyed, and all other phones were seized. At the end of the search, two phones were returned after the teachers in DU protested about leaving the family with no means of communication. Dr. Saibaba was not allowed to contact his lawyer, or his colleagues to ensure that the “investigation” would be a fair and transparent one. Teachers who reached the spot volunteered to be observers. But they were not allowed into the premises. During the course of this wholly baseless investigation, the entire family was kept captive –sometimes individually – prevented from making or receiving calls, or meeting anyone who sought to meet them. The police locked themselves into various rooms of the house for long periods of time. Two terrified local barbers were picked up by the police and brought in as “neutral observers” for some part of the raid. They were also coerced into signing on the seizure sheet as witnesses. The police left sometime after some DU teachers arrived, began questioning the police and informing the media about the incident. After much persistence, the teachers managed to get the terrified child produced. The police left after confiscated a large number of college documents, pen-drives, a laptop, a tablet microchip, mobile phones (including the minor daughter’s phone), debit and credit cards, and bank passbooks, none of which items were “stolen property”.
A day later, the Gadchiroli police claimed the following incriminating evidence against Saibaba to some press persons: (1) that they have extracted a confession from the JNU student Hem Mishra stating that a microchip found in his possession was given to him by Dr. Saibaba; (2) that they have records of internet “chat sessions” between Dr. Saibaba and several top Maoist leaders; (3) that Dr. Saibaba was named in Mr. Kobad Ghandy’s “confession” as being a Maoist leader; (4) that Dr. Saibaba stands incriminated by virtue of being General Secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), which they alleged is a front for the CPI (Maoist). It appears that the police will use these, among other grounds, to frame charges against Dr. Saibaba, and arrest him as soon as possible. It may be noted here that: (a) Mr. Kobad Ghandy’s alleged “confession” was set aside by the courts as being fabricated by the AP police and inadmissible; (b) without dwelling on the police’s ludicrous imagination of the senior Maoist party leadership participating in “internet chat groups”, it may be noted that, by the police’s own account, these chat sessions are between persons named “Prakash” and “Chetan”, and the alleged “Maoist top leadership”; (c) there is no mention of Dr. Saibaba by name; (d) Dr. Saibaba has also categorically denied any knowledge of any microchip, or indeed of any contact on this matter with Hem Mishra; (e) The charge of harbouring “stolen property” is particularly outrageous, baseless and despicable. Continue reading →
GN Saibaba is a joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and the convenor of several forums against Operation Greenhunt and the persecution of adivasis and tribal people in Central India. He teaches English at a DU college.
The Maharashtra police, along with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Delhi Police Special Cell, made a surprise search at the house of Delhi University professor GN Saibaba. They refused to entertain pleas by the wheelchair-bound professor-cum-activist to contact his lawyer or colleagues. Saibaba is a joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and the convenor of several forums against Operation Greenhunt and the persecution of adivasis and tribal people in Central India. He teaches English at a DU college.
“Around 20 days ago, former JNU student and activist Hem Mishra was arrested. The police are trying to tie me up to that case. They came in and snatched away the cellular phones of my wife, my daughter and myself and refused to let us call or notify anyone of the search. None of us were allowed to leave, nor was anyone allowed to come in. We were detained in our own house,” Saibaba told TEHELKA. Saibaba claimed that the police told him that the search was in relation to the Hem Mishra case in Gadhchiroli. Mishra was arrested for alleged Maoist links. This is not the first time that an activist has been persecuted or arrested for activism in the forests of Central India. Continue reading →
(First Post) Editors note: This interview was originally run in April 2010 by CNN-IBN. Given the context of the recent attack in Chhattisgarh on a Congress convoy, (First Post) has republished the interview as it resurfaces some interesting points of view.
In that interview, Arundhati Roy says that the Maoists have no choice but to indulge in ‘counter-violence’. Here is Roy’s interview with CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghosh:
Arundhati Roy. AFP
Sagarika Ghose: You wrote your article ‘Walking with the comrades’ in The Outlook before Dantewada happened. In the aftermath of the Dantewada (incident of 2010), do you still stand by the tone of sympathy that you had with the Maoist cause in that essay?
Arundhati Roy: Well, this is a odd way to frame before and after Dantewada happened, because actually you know this cycle of violence has been building on and on. This is not the first time that a large number of security personnel have been killed by the Maoists. I have written about it and the other attacks that took place between the years 2005-07. The way I look at is, people make it sound that, ‘oh, on this side are people, who are celebrating the killing of CRPF jawans, and that side of the people who are asking for the Maoists to be wiped out.’ This is not the case. I think that you got to look at the every death as a terrible tragedy in a system, in a war that’s been pushed on the people and that unfortunately is becoming a war of the rich against the poor. In which rich put forward the poorest of the poor to fight the poor. CRPF are terrible victims but they are not just victims of the Maoists. They are victims of a system of structural violence that is taking place, that sort to be drowned in this empty condemnation industry that goes on. This is entirely meaningless because most of the time people who condemn them have really no sympathy for them. They are just using them as pawns. Continue reading →
[See two articles from India’s bourgeois media, below. — Frontlines ed.]
Chhattisgarh attack revenge for Salwa Judum, Green Hunt: Maoists
The Times of India | May 29, 2013
“Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) cadres main aim was eliminate Mahendra Karma and few other Congress leaders,” the Maoist said in a statement e-mailed to select mediapersons.
RAIPUR: Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) on Tuesday strongly defended killing of senior tribal leader Mahendra Karma and Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee (CGPCC) president Nand Kumar Patel for their role in SalwaJudum and operation Green Hunt but expressed regrets over the death of other “innocent” Congressmen.”Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) cadres main aim was eliminate Mahendra Karma and few other Congress leaders,” the Maoist said in a statement e-mailed to select mediapersons.
Dandakaranya special zonal committee spokesman Gudsa Usendi claimed that the attack was to avenge “Salwa Judum” – the controversial anti-Maoist movement of June 2005 that led to large scale violence and displacement of thousands of villagers in Bastar.
“Both the BJP and the Congress are equally responsible for repression in tribal areas,” the Maoist spokesman said adding that Salwa Judum had become a curse for the people of Bastar. Continue reading →
A documentary about those who live the revolutionary ideal in India
Director: Sanjay Kak
Synopsis: ‘Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist’, the revolutionary patriot had said almost a hundred years ago, and that forewarning travels into India’s present, as armed insurrection simmers in Bastar, in the troubled heart of central India. But to the east too, beleaguered adivasis from the mineral-rich hills of Odisha come forth bearing their axes, and their songs. And in the north the swelling protests by Punjabi peasants sees hope coagulate–once more–around that iconic figure of Bhagat Singh, revolutionary martyr of the anti-colonial struggle. But are revolutions even possible anymore? Or have those dreams been ground down into our nightmares? This is a chronicle of those who live the revolutionary ideal in India, a rare encounter with the invisible domain of those whose everyday is a fight for another ideal of the world. Gondi, Odiya, Punjabi with English Subtitles
Talking about a revolution…
by BUDHADITYA BHATTACHARYA, The Hindu, Bangalore, May 16, 2013
[Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singh]
The third in a cycle of films that interrogate the workings of Indian democracy, Red Ant Dream by Sanjay Kak looks at the revolutionary ideal as it exists in India today. Moving between Punjab, Bastar and Niyamgiri, the film documents the songs, histories and struggles of people who try to imagine a different world into being. The director responded to questions in an e-mail interview:
Can you talk about the beginnings of Red Ant Dream? When and why did you get interested in making this film?
[Photo: A Still From the Film]
It’s always difficult to say where the beginnings of a film lie, because in a sense what you put into a documentary could be the summation of many years of thinking about an idea, your whole life even! For more than a decade all my films have been about resistance – Words on Water was about the movement against big dams in the Narmada valley, Jashn-e-Azadi about Kashmir, and now with this new film we look at the stirrings in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, and briefly Punjab. More specifically, I think Red Ant Dream was a reaction to the way in which the rebellion led by the Maoists in central India was being depicted in the media and in public discourse – as an isolated, autonomous outbreak of something like a pestilence, something alien called Maoism. Continue reading →