Sheetal Sathe granted bail at last !

sheetal sathe

Sheetal Sathe of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) was granted bail this morning by Justice Abhay Thipsay of the Bombay High Court. The move has come as a major relief for all those who have been fighting for her release especially in view of the fact that she is over 8 months pregnant and the Sessions Court had denied her bail.

It will be recalled that the KKM, a dalit and working class cultural troupe from Pune had gone underground after the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested one of their members, Deepak Dengle and had begun describing the group as“Naxalites”. Deepak was tortured in prison but released on bail after a year and a half along with 5 others when the Bombay High Court ruled that there were no grounds to keep them in jail even under the draconian provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

On April 2, 2013 emboldened by the court ruling, Sheetal Sathe and her husband Sachin Mali of the KKM voluntarily gave themselves up to the authorities in an act of satyagraha for the freedom of expression. A month later Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap and Rupali Jadhav of the KKM also did a satyagraha in public, declaring that they had done no wrong and had come overground after getting confidence that civil society was willing to stand up for them.

The Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee (KKMDC) formed after KKM went underground wishes to thank all those persons and organizations across India and abroad who sent letters and faxes and made phone calls to the government and the ATS. It really is through your efforts alone that the government realized that keeping the KKM unjustly in prison carries a price.

KKMDC will soon move the court to release remaining members of the KKM. We will need your continued support so that sooner rather than later, we hear them sing their songs of freedom and justice again.

Anand Patwardhan
for Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee

Pregnant Kabir Kala Manch member gets bail
Express news service : Mumbai, Fri Jun 28 2013, 02:51 hrs

Bombay High Court granted bail Thursday to Sheetal Sathe, member of radical music group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). She and husband Sachin Mali had courted arrest in April.

Eight-and-a-half months pregnant Sathe had sought bail saying she was losing weight as jail food was not suited to her condition. public prosecutor Rohini Salian did not oppose.

Salian told court the chargesheet in the case was likely to be filed on June 29.

Sathe had sought bail also stating that there was no evidence to show she had links with Naxalites, as alleged by the prosecution.

She and Mali had gone underground after the arrest of four KKM members in 2010 for allegedly aiding and abetting Naxal activities.

ATS claimed when underground, Sathe was in touch with Angela Sontakke, an alleged Naxalite and wife of CPI (M) state committee secretary Milind Teltumbde who was arrested in 2010. It said the couple courted arrest on April 2 following the release of the KKM member on bail.

Chhattisgarh lawyer, client charged with sedition walk free
Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu, Raipur, June 28, 2013

Advocate from central Chhattisgarh has been slapped with the same charges that of her clients

Rarely in judicial history has an advocate been slapped with the same charges as that of her clients. But such was the case of Rekha Parghaniya – a lawyer and a human rights activist from central Chhattisgarh. She was arrested and charged with sedition and put in the same prison with her client, Rashmi Verma, a middle aged housewife arrested for “excit(ing) disaffection towards the Government.”

Ms. Parghaniya was defending Ms. Verma and her husband Bhola Bag, a contractual worker, who was booked with sedition as well. All three of them were also charged under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (CSPSA) for allegedly abetting the outlawed CPI-Maoist. They were acquitted by the district court of Durg on Wednesday.

Bhola Bag and Rashmi Verma were arrested on basis of a statement made by Sarita, an alleged Maoist cadre. She, in her statement to the Sarguja district police, allegedly claimed that she stayed with Mr. Bag and Ms. Verma while working for the underground party. The couple were arrested in February, 2009 and eventually charged under an 1860 Act of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for “excit(ing) disaffection towards the Government” and Section 8/1, 8/3 and 8/5 of CSPSA, 2005 for helping an ‘unlawful organisation.’

“What triggered the arrest of Ms. Parghaniya was the arrest of her husband in Kolkata,” said one of her lawyers, Sadiq Ali. Ms. Parghaniya’s husband, Deepak, was arrested in Kolkata earlier in 2012 for allegedly helping a unit of the Maoists to manufacture small arms. Maoist Central Committee did acknowledge Mr. Parghaniya as one of their “comrades” in a release issued on March 2, 2012. “Ms. Parghaniya was arrested just for being the wife of Mr. Parghaniya whom she last met several years ago,” said Mr. Ali.

A team of CPI (ML)’s women wing, AIPWA visited Ms. Parghaniya in Durg central jail and questioned the arrest. “…incriminating documents seized by the police from Rekha’s house include literature by Bhagat Singh, Marx, Engels and Bertolt Brecht, as well as some folders on the history of the workers’ movement,” said the AIPWA release. “The AIPWA team led by Lakshmi Krishnan was severely interrogated before they were allowed to talk to the women who were projected as big time Maoist guerrillas,” said State secretary of CPI (ML) Brajen Tiwari.

The couple were implicated as Mr. Parghaniya, ostensibly, arranged for some contractual work for Bhola Bag in Bhilai Steel Plant before he left Durg. “Allegedly, they were consolidating the urban network of the Maoists,” said Mr. Ali. While all three were booked by police under same sections of IPC and CSPSA, Ms. Parghaniya was kept out of sedition when charges were finally framed. “Since the permission was not sought by police from home department before slapping 124/A,” said Mr Ali.

The judgment said that the evidences were not sufficient to convict Mr. Bag and Ms. Verma. Ms. Parghaniya was acquitted as the two main witnesses were not present during the seizure, which was the important evidence against her. “Even the investigating officer said there were hardly any incriminating documents, other than few leftist magazines,” said Mr. Ali.

Rekha Parghaniya walked free on Wednesday night and managed to win freedom for her clients as well.

Two convicted in Naxal related case
Staff Reporter, The Hindu, June 26, 2013

CPI (Maoist) member acquitted in the case

A fast track court in Nagpur on Wednesday acquitted Angela Sontakke, the alleged Maharashtra State Committee member of the CPI (Maoist) in a Naxal related case but convicted two others under the Arms act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

In August 2007, police arrested Vernon Gonsalvis and Sridhar Shrinivasan from Mumbai on the charges of having links with the Naxals.

Angela Sontakke, who was arrested from Thane in April 2011, was also named in this case by the police.

Angela is the wife of Milind Teltumbde, the Maharashtra area secretary of the CPI (Maoist).

The police had claimed to have recovered detonators, a hand grenade, two firearms, 20 gelatin sticks, laptops, pen drive, mobile phones and ‘banned literature’ from the duo when they were arrested from Govandi area in Mumbai.

The accused were charged for offenses punishable under Section 120-B,121-A of the Indian Penal Code, 10,13,16,17,18, 20, 23 and 40 of the UAPA, Section 3 of Arms Act, Section 6 and 9(B) of the Explosives Act and Section 3,4,5 of Explosive Substance Act.

“Angela has been acquitted in this case. Vernon and Sridhar have been sentenced under the arms act and section 10 and 13 of the (UAPA). Sridhar has also been convicted under the Explosives Act and given six years of imprisonment” Surendra Gadling, counsel for the accused, told The Hindu.

“Shridhar and Vernon have been acquitted from section 16, 17, 18,20,23,40 of the UAPA which shows that they have been acquitted from the charges of being associated with any of the banned organizations” pointed out Mr. Gadling .

Vernon Gonsalvis who was sentenced for five years imprisonment on Wednesday, would walk free on Thursday because he had already spent five years and 10 months in Jail, Mr. Gadling said and added that the court acquitted the duo from charges of waging war against the State and they were also not found involved in any terror activities.

Shridhar has also spent more than five years in Jail and will be sent back to jail to serve remaining term of his six years sentence.

Angela Sontakke is facing five more cases under different sections and she is currently in Byculla jail in Mumbai.


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