On 1st October, the Delhi High Court set aside the Order of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Saket Courts passed on 28th August granting transit remand to Pune police against Gautam Navlakha in the one of the FIRs booked in connection to the Bhima Koregaon incident. It was held by the Delhi High Court that the said Order was untenable in law as it was in violation of not just the fundamental rights guaranteed to an accused by the Constitution of India (Article 22) but also that it failed to take into account the statutory procedure to be followed at the time of arrest. Recall that on 28th September the Supreme Court (Romila Thapar v State) had extended by four weeks, the house arrest of social activists who had requested for an independent and/or judicially monitored probe in the Bhima Koregaon incident. The house arrest was extended to enable the petitioners to pursue legal remedies before concerned courts.
PUDR is glad to have its long-standing member Gautam Navlakha released today, pursuant to the Delhi High Court taking note of the gross abuse of procedure by the Pune Police. The Delhi High Court has noted that in cases under stringent laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the liberty of the Accused should be compromised with only after careful scrutiny of compliance of procedural safeguards. In a way this strengthens the position that PUDR has taken for years that draconian and undemocratic laws like UAPA need to be repealed as they are capable of taking away freedoms of citizens as and when the State wishes to. In this case, PUDR has witnessed its own member being targetted under this law only for the dissenting views held by him.
On this occasion, PUDR is proud to publish the following statement by Gautam Navlakha on his release:
Statement of an Urban Naxal
I wish to thank the majority and dissenting Justices of the Supreme Court for their judgment, which allowed us four weeks to seek relief in this matter, and the public-spirited citizens & lawyers of India for putting up a spirited fight on our behalf, whose memory I will cherish. I am humbled by the solidarity, which crossed borders, rallying in our support.
From Delhi High Court I have won my freedom. It thrills me no end.
My dearest friends and lawyers led by Nitya Ramakrishnan, Warisha Farasat, Ashwath, along with others in the legal & logistics team, literally, ‘moved heaven and earth’ to win me my freedom. I don’t know if I can ever repay this debt. Nor to the senior lawyers who argued in our favour in the apex court. The period of house arrest, despite the restrictions imposed was put to good use, so I hold no grudge.
However, I cannot forget my co-accused and tens of thousands of other political prisoners in India who remain incarcerated for their ideological convictions, or on account of false charges filed against them, and/or wrongful conviction under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act - UAPA. Fellow accused in the same matter have gone on hunger strike against the maltreatment inside the jails and demanded that they be recognised as political prisoners/prisoners of conscience. Other political prisoners too have time and again sat on hunger strike and demanded the same. Their freedom and their rights are precious to Civil Liberties & Democratic Rights movement.
But, there is reason to celebrate.
I salute the LGBTQ comrades for their monumental victory recently after a relentless and stubborn struggle, which has opened the door for as significant a social reform movement as the one fired by Babasaheb Ambedkar for the annihilation of caste, exhorting us all to ‘educate, organise and agitate’. Our solidarity was slow in coming, but your perseverance forced us to change. You brought a smile back on our faces and rainbow colours in our lives.
Also, freedom won by Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar Ravan and his comrades Sonu and Shivkumar from preventive detention is particularly reassuring because it shows the power of indomitable resistance against a socially entrenched casteist tyranny, from ground below.
My Salaam to friends in JNUSU for the historic victory of the United Left panel which proves yet again that united resistance is the need of the hour - only thus can we face persecution and struggle so that it gathers critical mass support.
Friends, sacchai aur imandari se lade shabd goli aur gaali se zyada takatvar hote hain, aaj yeh saabit ho raha hai. Hamare geet aur kavitayon mein josh hai, aur hamare kaam aur lekhni ka aadhar reason aur facts hain.
To all my nearest and dearest, let us continue to speak up for the enforcement of our constitutional freedoms and against oppression & exploitation in all forms.
Let’s recall Pash ke yeh anmol bol:
‘Hum Ladenge Saathi
Ki ladne ke baghair kuch bhi nahi milta
Ki abhi tak lade kyon nahi
Apni saza kabulne ke liye
Ladte huey mar jaane walon ki
yaad zinda rakhne ke liye
HUM LADENGE SAATHI
Monday, October 1, 2018
Sharmila Purkayastha, Shahana Bhattacharya
1st October 2018