Wednesday, January 12, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Dalit activist arrested for alleged Naxal links

Dalit activist arrested for alleged Naxal links

Sudhir Dhawale, editor of Marathi magazine Vidrohi, has been charged
with sedition

Jyoti Punwani

Posted On Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 02:02:09 AM

Dalit activist and editor of Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Sudhir Dhawale,
was arrested on Monday morning at Gondia and charged with sedition
(sec 124) and under Secs 17, 20 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities
Prevention Act (UAPA).

These sections relate to: raising funds for terrorist acts; being a
member of a terrorist organisation and providing support to a
terrorist organisation.

Gondia Sub-Divisional Police Officer Borate told Mumbai Mirror that
Sudhir had been named by one Bhimrao, alias Bhanu Bhovate, whom he
described as a "State Committee Naxalite leader", arrested last week
in Gondia.

Bhovate had reportedly told police that he had given his computer,
which had Naxalite literature in it, to Sudhir. Thus it was necessary
to seize Sudhir's computer, said Borate. The police searched Sudhir's
home in Byculla for over three hours in the evening.

Sudhir Dhawale protesting Binayak Sen's arrest
Sudhir has been remanded in police custody till January 12. He had
addressed a Ambedkar-Phule Sahitya Sammelan near Wardha on Sunday, and
was on a train when he was arrested. Borate said they had been
trailing him for the last few days, emphasising that his arrest had
nothing to do with the Sammelan.

Expressing shock at his arrest, award-winning documentary maker Anand
Patwardhan compared it to that of Binayak Sen.

"I know Sudhir well. He is a gentle person. His arrest is an outrage.
It's like what happened with Dr Binayak Sen - hounding those who have
sympathy for the oppressed." Interestingly, Sudhir is an active member
of the Mumbai-based Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen.

A well-known name in Dalit and Left circles, Sudhir was one of the
founders of the Republican Panther Jaatiya Antachi Chalwal (movement
for annihilation of caste), formed on December 6, 2007, Dr Ambedkar's
Mahaparinirvan Day, at Shivaji Park.

This group grew out of the anger of Dalit youth against the Ramabai
Nagar firing (1997) and the Khairlanji killings (2006).

According to Shyam Sonar, a member of the Republican Panthers, their
group was created seeing the failure of the Dalit Panthers to live up
to their original aim of working among people to wipe out caste. "We
believe in raising awareness about atrocities on Dalits and the
government's destructive pattern of development in a democratic way,"
said Sonar.

A full-time activist, Sudhir edited the bi-monthly Marathi magazine
Vidrohi, which has among its editorial advisers Nikhil Wagle, Anand
Patwardhan, and Anand Teltumbde.

His wife, a nurse, ran their home, while his friends paid his mobile
bills and for his railway pass, said Sonar. Sudhir has two school
going children.

A year ago, Sudhir had performed Hindi film director Sagar Sarhadi's
play Raj Durbar in Nagpur. Describing him as a "decent man and an
enthusiastic and curious student of theatre", Sarhadi said his arrest
was a form of "witch hunting".

Folk artiste shahir Sambhaji Bhagat recalled having first met Sudhir
as a college student in Nagpur, where he had attended Bhagat's theatre
workshops. "Sudhir was very active in organising the parallel Vidrohi
Marathi Sahitya Sammelans," said Sambhaji. "He is also a good singer.
His arrest bodes ill for those who believe in open democratic work."

Last week, Home Minister Chidambaram had asked Maharashtra's police to
go on the offensive against Naxalites in the state. "When the
government puts pressure on the police, they catch Leftists who work
in an open manner because these are easy targets," said Anand
Patwardhan. "Dr Binayak Sen and now Sudhir, are being tarred as
Naxalites for doing human rights work. It is a continuation of the
dangerous pattern of blurring the lines in order to shut people up."


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