[Reader-list] kabir kala manch denied bail by high court

Asit Das asit1917 at gmail.com
Tue Apr 15 03:46:33 CDT 2014

*KKM Bail Application Rejected by High Court*

Today Justice A.R. Joshi of the High Court of Bombay delivered a verbal
order in the matter relating to the bail application of three cultural
activists (poets and singers) of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). Shockingly
Justice Joshi rejected the bail appeal of Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorkhe and
Ramesh Gaichor.

It may be recalled that the KKM, a Dalit and working class group, was
forced to go into hiding in 2011 after two of their members were arrested
and tortured by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) and charged with
collaborating with Naxalites. In 2012 after a film highlighting their music
was released and a KKM Defence Committee was formed, the KKM began to feel
that there was civil society support for their work. When in January 2013
Justice Thipsay of the Bombay High Court granted bail to the two arrested
KKM activists (Deepak Dengle and Siddharth Bhonsle) it gave courage to the
other KKM members who due to police repression were living in hiding.
Finally Sheetal Sathe , Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor decided
to submit themselves to the due process of law. They did a peaceful
Satyagraha by singing songs outside the State Assembly and were duly
arrested. While Sheetal was granted bail in July 2013, Sachin, Sagar and
Ramesh have remained in jail for a year.

Interestingly the charges against Sheetal are exactly the same as those
against the three who were denied bail today. Their crime ? Writing and
singing songs against poverty, inequality, gender injustice, environmental
degradation, corruption, superstition. They voluntarily submitted to the
due process of law and showed faith in democracy. Even the ATS has not
charged them with committing violence or possessing weapons or contraband.
Their weapons are only their passionate songs pleading for justice.

Today as the country is caught in the throes of an election where communal
violence and rhetoric have become the norm, the sane and rational voices of
Sachin, Sagar and Ramesh must multiply rather than be unjustly locked
behind bars.

Note: The written order in this case is not yet available but the brief
oral order read by Justice Joshi while rejecting the bail plea was merely
that these applicants are charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention
Act (UAPA), as if that in itself is tantamount to guilt! One wonders if the
learned bench is trying to say that it is useless for anyone charged under
UAPA to try to get justice in court.

Advocates Mihir Desai and Vijay Hiremath who appeared pro bono for the KKM
put up a lucid and passionate defence stressing that their clients were
young persons who had already lost years of their life in hiding and in
jail merely for the crime of being poor and singing songs for justice.

The KKM Defence Committee will now approach the Supreme Court of India.

Anand Patwardhan,
for KKM Defence Committee, 11 April, 2014

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