Activist Sudha Bharadwaj, Arrested in India, Honoured by Harvard

Harvard Law International Women’s Day Portrait Exhibit honoured Bharadwaj and lawyer Menaka Guruswamy this year.

2 min read
Human Rights Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj

Harvard Law International Women’s Day Portrait Exhibit honoured human rights activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj this year.

According to Harvard Law Student Organisation’s website, the exhibit features “inspiring women working in the fields of law and policy” and the list of 21 honourees featured Bharadwaj and lawyer Menaka Guruswamy.

Bharadwaj, an activist, was arrested by Pune police on 27 September 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Meanwhile, Guruswamy argued for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India, and was the only women in an a team of lawyers that challenged Section 377.

Harvard’s annual exhibit is now in its sixth year, and is based on nominations by Harvard Law School students, faculty or staff, the official website reported.


Bharadwaj’s Arrest Over Links to the Bhima Koregaon Violence

Bharadwaj was put under house arrest on 28 August 2018 for having ‘Maoist links’ and in connection with a public meeting called the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune. This conclave was allegedly a trigger for the caste-based violence at Pune’s Bhima Koregaon in January 2018.

Several other activists were also arrested and accused of instigating the violence.

In an open letter, Bharadwaj refuted the allegations against her, claiming they were “baseless fabrications” to “delegitimatise her legal activities like meetings” and “cast a stigma over them.”

Elgar Parishad was organised by several NGO’s and featured cultural shows and speeches. It was held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima.

The 1818 battle saw the British army, comprising of British soldiers and Mahars, the largest Dalit community in Maharashtra, defeat the Peshwa militia despite being weaker in numbers.

The battle is significant for Dalits as it highlights their courage amidst the rampant caste-based oppression.

Bharadwaj moved the Bombay High Court in February 2019 to seek bail, after being refused by a Pune court. The high court will pass an order on her application on 11 March it said.

(With inputs from The Wire and Bar and Bench)

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