India: “Justice” System Produces Political Prisoners

Vira Sathidar, right, in a scene from “Court,” directed by Chaitanya Tamhane. Credit Zeitgeist Films

 The wheels of justice grind slowly and mercilessly in “Court,” Chaitanya Tamhane’s quiet, devastating critique of the antiquated Indian legal system. As it follows the case of Narayan Kamble (Vira Sathidar), a 65-year-old folk singer and social activist accused of inciting what is presumed to be the suicide of a sewer worker in Mumbai, the film conjures an absurdist nightmare of bureaucratic incompetence, indifference and social inequity.

Narayan is first seen teaching children Indian geography in a crowded Mumbai classroom, then hurrying to board a bus that takes him to an outdoor theater where he is introduced to a small crowd as “the people’s poet.” Backed by a troupe of musicians, he sings a forceful song urging everyone to rise up against “religious, racist, casteist and nationalist jungles.” Midway through, Narayan is arrested.

The remainder of the movie observes his protracted trial. A travesty of justice that another filmmaker might have directed as a farce, the work has a gravity, a measured pace and a detachment reminiscent of a Frederick Wiseman documentary — “Court,” however, is fictional. Continue reading

India jailed a revolutionary, but they can’t jail the revolution

FREE DR. GN SAIBABA!

FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

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:

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/professor-pow/294265

Writer, composer and singer of this song is Doc Jazz, and it was originally composed for the Palestinian activist Samer Issawi. Visit his site for more detail:

http://www.docjazz.com/index.php/articles/41-news/songnews/241-new-song-hungry-samer-issawi

“Independent India” Uses British Empire’s “Sedition” Laws to Suppress Dissent

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.

.  .  .  .  .  .

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
Ushinor Majumdar, Outlook India Magazine, week of May 18, 2015
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.

“Suspected Maoist” DU professor on hunger strike in Nagpur jail

Pradip Kumar Maitra, Hindustan Times, Nagpur, India, April 14, 2015

Delhi University professor GN Saibaba (centre) is lodged in Nagpur jail after police booked him for alleged links with Maoists. (News Agency photo)

A Delhi University professor, arrested for allegedly being a Maoist sympathiser, launched an indefinite hunger strike on Sunday, protesting against the inhuman treatment at the Nagpur central jail, where he is currently lodged.

GN Saibaba was arrested by the Gadchiroli police in May last year and booked under six sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

On Tuesday, former high court judge and human rights activist BG Kolse-Patil said Saibaba – who is wheelchair-bound as he is physically-challenged – was not given a personal assistant in the jail and was being denied basic needs.

Continue reading

Professor GN Saibaba, Political Prisoner, ‘Kept in isolation, denied medication’

[It is horrifying to consider the sadistic glee of police and prison officials, as they carry on with their interrogation and torture of Professor GN Saibaba, jailed for his opposition to the crimes of the Indian State.  This article from a Mumbai  (where he is being held) newspaper details the physical and medical mistreatment of Prof. Saibaba, even as protests across India and around the world continue to grow. — Frontlines ed.]
‘Kept in isolation, denied medication’

G N Saibaba is physically challenged and has a history of heart disease
By Prateek Goyal, Pune Mirror, May 14, 2014
Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee appeals to State human rights commission, claiming G N Saibaba needs to be provided with basic facilities

The Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) has appealed to the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC), asking that wheelchair-bound Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, arrested for his alleged affiliation with Maoist groups and confined in Nagpur jail, should not be tortured during interrogation and provided with basic facilities.

A representative of APCLC and a fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) V Hargopal met former justice of Kerala High Court and current chairman of MSHRC, S R Bannurmath, in this regard on Monday.

Continue reading

Indian Political Prisoner, Prof. GN Saibaba, Must Be Freed!

Condemn the abduction of Delhi University Prof. GN Saibaba,
by the Indian state security forces!

While the Indian state and its imperialist masters harp about India’s overall advances and continue to portray it as “the largest democracy in the world”, in the very heart of its capital in Delhi, on May 9, 2014, in broad day light, in full view of CCTV monitored by the local police, the Indian security forces, unashamedly assaulted and abducted Delhi University Professor, Dr GN Saibaba.

After Dr. Saibaba, who suffers from 90% disability and is wheelchair bound, was taken away blindfolded from within the university premises, it took a mysterious call to Vasantha, his partner, from some unknown location in Delhi disclosing it to her that her husband was being taken to Gadchiroli in Maharashtram. Since then, according to the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners’(CRPP) statement, issued in New Delhi on 10-05-2014, the lawyers in Aheri court in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra have confirmed that Dr. Saibaba has been produced before the magistrate and was sent into judicial custody.

Dr GN Saibaba’s is a long standing peoples’ rights activist. He is the joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and one of the central conveners of the “Forum Against War on People” that spearheaded the mobilisation of public opinion in India and abroad against the shameful “Operation Green Hunt” – another clean name amongst others for the Indian state’s genocidal war on the tribal people of India – that aims to displace millions of people from this mineral rich area of India and auction off the land and its resources to domestic and international mining corporations to exploit. Continue reading