By Satyaki Chakraborty
The Bhima Koregaon case prisoners complete four years of their arrests in jails on June 6, 2022 and on this very day, the jailed activists issued an open letter to the people of the country and those who still love freedom for human rights activities. In this poignant statement, they have asserted that their suffering is nothing compared to many other prisoners who have spent years together with a smile on their face.
Written by activists Professor Shoma Sen, Advocate Gadling, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhawale, on behalf of themselves and ten others, the letter tells the public that they were jailed to stifle dissent under anti-terror laws, being used rampantly. The letter was available courtesy The Leaflet.
“These laws paralyze a person from defending herself. When bail is demanded, same is condescendingly rejected. Statistics will reveal that it takes about 5-10 years in India (and 8-10 years in Maharashtra) to get bail, till then one must languish in jail. This is the elaborate scheme created by the rulers to destroy persons [sic] social, economic, psychological and emotional life”, the letter reads.
The letter claims that they are all prisoners because of their conscience, sensitivity, and feelings, which they did not divorce, unlike the rulers. “Even in the darkness of these fetters, our conscience is wide awake; rather this has helped make it even sharper”, they write.
In these four years, they assert that they have not just kept themselves alive, but lively too. “We are in solitary confines. Be it momentarily each of us, have taken a deep dive in darks of depression; yet we never bowed down. We never begged for release. We never cried. We never wrote any apology petition”, they write.
The letter reminds people that anti-people regimes use the prison as one of their most crucial weapons, and basic human amenities, which are traditionally considered as parameters of development of civilization, are kept away from there. “Thus it has become a routine to raise voice against the injustice, and then agitating against it. Here, you need to create your own space, then the prison life becomes kind of liveable, bearable. This struggle of ours is every day chore [sic]…”, the letter shares, explaining how they make sense of their current agony.
Thanking their well-wishers for their support and all forms of assistance in these trying times, the Bhima Koregaon accused activists and academics express their hope that the unprecedented backing, public outcry and relentless efforts in their support will bear fruit one day.
The letter says ‘you are well aware as to who we 16 are, what charges have been slapped against us. Of the 16 late Father Stan Swamy was institutionally murdered by state in custody. We take this as an opportunity to tell you all that we are not exclusive or specials one with whom this has happened.’
According to the letter, all those who are rising for rights Dalits-tribals-oppressed and women; and those activists, students, writers, poets, scholars, journalists, agitating masses who are ardent critics of Governing powers of our country, are being targeted. Many are being jailed to stifle the dissent. For that anti-terror laws are being used, rampantly.
‘These laws paralyze a person from defending herself. When bail is demanded same is condescendingly rejected. Statistics will reveal that it takes about 5-10 years in India (and 8-10 years in Maharashtra) to get bail, till then one must languish in jail. This is the elaborate scheme created by the rulers to destroy persons social, economic, psychological and emotional life’.
The letter points out ‘they have always failed to understand humans. We all are prisoners because of our conscience, because of our sensitivity, because of our feelings. Unlike the rulers we have not divorced from it. Even in the darkness of these fetters, our conscience is wide awake; rather this has helped make it even sharper’.
The joint letter reminds ‘all of our loyalties are always on sides of proletariats-oppressed and exploited. Time and again we have raised our voice and have fought injustice, exploitation, plunder, discrimination and inequality. This ruthless world gives nothing without struggle; hence our struggle has ranged from one for bread to one for liberation’.
According to the letter ‘our soil is blessed with the radiant ideology of liberation struggles of Charwak, Buddha, Kabir, Tukaram, Shivaji Maharaj, Bhagat Singh, Phule, Ambedkar and so on. Each page of our history radiates fragrant embers, an eternal inspiration for us. We being part of it naturally we have eccentric love and pride of it. Having unquivering faith, dedication to our ideologies and our work, we neither deviated as such nor shall we.
‘Obviously for those who continue to execute legacy of Bramhanwad, Peshwas, British invaders and Hitler found us to be big obstacle. That is why those who are afflicting our nation are being hailed as patriots, whereas those who are serving with their sweat and blood are being labelled as traitors. Fanatic mobs are made to lock their common sense in the closet and let loose for hysterical rampage.’
The Bhimo Karegoan activists say that lies are being repeated mischievously on and on, with increasing force to create communal polarisation. This fanatic nationalism is dragging us towards authoritarianism. Thus, they calling us traitors by foisting such fabricated case, and fettering us to prison walls was bound to be.
But the jailed prisoners point out they are labouring under false belief, they think they will be able to break us by throwing us in jail. On the contrary, in these four years, we have not just kept ourselves alive, but lively too. ‘We are in solitary confines. Be it momentarily each of us, have taken a deep dive in darks of depression; yet we never bowed down. We never begged for release. We never cried. We never wrote any apology petition ‘.
The letter mentions anti-people regimes have prison as its one of the most crucial weapons, basic human amenities which are traditionally considered as parameters of development of civilisation, are kept away from there. Thus, it has become a routine to raise voice against the injustice, and then agitating against it.’ Here, you need to create your own space, then the prison life becomes kind of liveable, bearable. This struggle of ours is everyday chore’, the prisoners say. (IPA Service)