Release Bhima Koregaon Accused: Nobel Laureates, EU MPs to PM, CJI
“Show compassion and responsibility in order to avoid catastrophic consequences,” the letter said.
Several notable academics, Nobel laureates and European parliamentarians have collectively written a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and other Indian authorities, demanding the release of political prisoners apprehended in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.
The signatories of the letter include Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk and Wole Soyinka, prominent literary critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky, and Former President of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, José Antonio Guevara-Bermúdez
On 1 January 2018, Dalits from all walks of life came together in Bhima Koregaon, about 40 km from Pune, to commemorate a 200-year-old battle in which the Dalit-dominated British army defeated Peshwas in Maharashtra. Stone-pelting and violent clashes had marred the event, followed by protests by the Dalit community over the violence.
Several activists, including Professor Shoma Sen, advocate Surendra Gadling, cultural activist Sudhir Dhawale, human rights activist Rona Wilson, Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, and anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut, had later been charged for inciting the Bhima Koregaon violence.
What Does the Letter Say?
The signatories marked their concern over the unavailability of prompt medical care in jails amid the pandemic, and demanded that a temporary administrative order be issued to release the political prisoners in India.
“We are alarmed that a number of human rights defenders who are currently awaiting trial in Indian jails have developed serious health issues owing to over-congestion, neglect, absence of appropriate medical care, and deplorable hygiene conditions.The Letter
The petitioners noted that among the 16 human rights defenders arrested in relation to the Bhima Koregaon case, many are senior citizens or those who suffer from comorbidities. At least six of them have contracted COVID-19 due to the deplorable living conditions in the prisons.
“In a moment of unprecedented national calamity, we ask for decisive action by the government and court to set the BK-16 at liberty to avert further tragedy. When the prison is unable to provide for the health and safety of the prisoners, the family has a right to offer such care as they deem necessary.”The Letter
The letter outlined the demands of the petitioners as follows:
- Release the BK-16 from overcrowded and unsafe prisons immediately
- Allow them to be cared for by their kin
- Show compassion and responsibility in order to avoid catastrophic consequences
- Ensure them their Constitutional right to live and die in dignity
"We strongly believe that by turning a blind eye to the toll exacted by COVID on those it holds in its custody, the government is in violation of its Constitutional duty to safeguard the life of these citizens," the letter added.
Full Text of the Letter
(Source: InSAF INDIA)
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