Hopefully Waiting
As we enter the sixth year of our incarceration the predominant feeling over the last five years is that of waiting. From waiting for default bail in the seventh month of our imprisonment, most of us are still waiting. In jail, we sit there waiting for court dates, waiting for mulakaat, waiting for the newspaper, waiting for bail and for the jail God called Memo. In jail, our sense of time itself gets warped. When a lawyer tells a prisoner that she will get bail in one or two days, it may actually mean one or two years. 24 hours of clock time could mean 24 months in judicial time.

So, what keeps us going through these five years? Apart from our own thoughts, beliefs, and ideals and each other's company it was the courage and suffering of ordinary people with frugal means struggling for freedom, who had been confined within these stone walls for an even longer period; that gave us patience. Outside, it was the tremendous support we received at the national and international level, from the smallest protest to the massive farmers movement that we found overwhelming. The continuous efforts of our devoted, efficient legal team and having brilliant legal luminaries appearing for us gave us tremendous hope. Family and friends coming from distant places to meet us in court, standing in long queues in the hot sun or pouring rain for a 15 minute conversation with a glass panel separating us, families going through all the travails and disappointments along with us have also been very endearing.

In this warped sense of time, everything that I left behind in June 2018 floats before my eyes like the vivid present. But I know that by the time I come out the world will be a very different place. While AI is penetrating into all walks of life we write with pens and paper, stick postal stamps on envelopes. We live in the Stone Age without knives, scissors or needles. We read about the Russia- Ukraine war, climate change disasters, people’s agitations in France, India gearing up for elections and still, we of the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case keep waiting, hopefully waiting.
Shoma Sen, Nagpur Central Jail


In the Name of Ravidas
That the minority community is not going to oblige the Modi brigade in Madhya Pradesh assembly elections is a hard reality. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) knows it. After ‘Ayodhya’ they are resorting to communal polarisation in respect of Gayanvapi mosque in Varanasi. People are not fools. So the party in power has decided to woo the Dalits, more precisely a section of Dalits, to create a new vote bank. As Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections 2023 are round the corner Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of one hundred-crore temple dedicated to social reformer Sant Ravidas in the Sagar district where he will also address a public meeting. Notably, this will be PM Modi’s second visit in just over a month to poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

The BJP is expecting up to 2 lakh people to attend the PM’s rally and the foundation laying ceremony for the temple dedicated to Sant Ravidas, who enjoys a nationwide following, among Dalits.

The two programmes will also mark the culmination of the ruling party’s ongoing ‘Samrasta (harmony) Yatras’, an attempt to reach out to Dalits ahead of the assembly elections.

“Five such yatras started from different parts of the state on July 25. The participants are bringing a handful of soil from 53,000 villages and water from 315 water bodies, including sacred rivers. The yatra reached Sagar on August 11 evening.” A recreation of Ram shila drama.

Madhya Pradesh has 35 assembly seats, of the total 230, reserved for Scheduled Castes, and of these, the BJP won 18 in the last elections, while the Congress bagged 17. The saffron party is making attempts to strengthen its base among Dalits by way of erecting a temple in the name of Sant Ravidas.
A Reader


Criminal Justice System in India
In the name of denouncing the colonial criminal laws in the country, the present Union government on 12 August introduced and subsequently sent the three new bills to the Parliamentary standing committee, while changing the erstwhile legal provisions named as Indian Penal Code, 1860; Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita; Bharatiya Nagarik Surakshya Sanhita and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill.

Section 150 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 shows that the word ‘sedition’ has been removed but the spirit of the sedition law is very much existent in the new section. At any moment of time when the governance has the ultimate authority to determine an act/ observation/opinion/association as anti-national or against the integrity of the nation as ample opportunity to use this draconian legal provision against any dissent.

Section 150 of the new Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill details the codes while discussing the acts, which are endangering the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.

 The uttered position is not different to the original position in Indian Penal Code under section 124A in letter and spirit.
By using the words ‘subversive activity’ which is not only vague but to restrict the democratic activities denouncing the government’s policies and actions. This is a direct attack on the fundamental constitutional rights of the citizen of India. The dissenting voice and the human rights defenders are at stake.

The new criminal bills also introduce new offences with stricter punishment. Section 111 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita incorporates new crime as the ‘Terrorist act’ under general penal law. For dealing with terrorist activities there are special laws like UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967) but here the features of UAPA are very much existing in the new penal provisions presented by the government. To define terrorist acts it explicitly refers under section 111 (1) (iv), “ to provoke or influence by intimidation the Government or its organisation, in such a manner so as to cause or likely to cause death or injury to any public functionary or any person or an act of detaining any person and threatening to kill or injure such person in order to compel the Government to do or abstain from doing any act, or destabilize or destroy the political, economic, or social structures of the country, or create a public emergency or undermine public safety.” It can be misused by the government authorities to take vengeance against the opposition, human rights workers and dissent voice who will try to raise their opinion against the government.
Kirity Roy, Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha


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Vol 56, No. 11, Sep 10 - 16, 2023