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Mainstream, VOL LII No 1, December 28, 2013 - ANNUAL 2013

A Letter from Central Prison, Nagpur

Sunday 29 December 2013


A Letter from Central Prison, Nagpur

Booked u/s 13,20,39 UAPA: An Affidavit for Ouster of the Real Incumbent

The arrest (and interrogation) of as nondescript a journalist and marginal an activist as me, even if for the second time—this time after 10-11 days’ mauling of a distantly acquainted, handicapped JNU student and two, most innocuous, adivasi youth, hours before a third was picked up from yet another location— should not, I believe, have caused even so much as a flutter. I honestly doubt whether it would have deserved any substantial space in a serious journal such as this one. And one does also realise that the catchier, glossier, perhaps less insightful sections of the media, despite their expansive reach, are not to be taken too seriously.

However, considering the many unwarranted dimensions that the police are trying to add in order to erect an edifice for their fake, tall claim of having busted some huge “terrorist”, “anti-national” conspiracy—in a profane bid to lend veracity to our case, and to extend the stipulated period for submitting the primary charge-sheet from 90 days to 180, as permitted under the latest UPA version—so as to deny us bail on the grounds of detention without charges, I understand the entire unfortunate episode, while not being likely to be rendered sub-juice until about three more months or so, could keep the prevailing proliferation of pliant, politically prejudiced, or simply uncaring and callous correspondents, legally, in the comfort zone for a longer period while serving their employers’ demand and desire to comply with the draconian, many-faced state, to defame and denigrate the nobler, unbending dissenting political stream of which I consider myself, though tiny as a nano-speck, a part. Hence even as old excerpts from news stories carried since my surreptitious pre-arrest abduction (another second) by the Maharashtra Police, far beyond their jurisdiction and in blatant violation of the law as outlined clearly, and the inevitable vicious mental and physical bombardments filtered back to me, I feel obliged to make some minimum clarification, as also a plea pertaining to the Act which breeds this lawlessness.

Whether out of my own diffidence or out of others, I did not actually join any mass organisation, political party, joint front or research academy—both banned and otherwise—in the capacity of a member, any time after my release on bail in my first, Uttarankhand case on August 21, 2011. (Such was, by all accounts, my status even at the time of my first abduction from Dehradun on December 17, 2007.) The same holds good as regards the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) whose political perspective I did ascribe to, but most of whose activities I could not participate in—simply because I was not admitted therein.

I have participated in, and spoken from various platforms, conventions and conferences, including the usually UGC-sponsored annual Indian Social Science Congress; anti-repression fronts of Jamait-e-Islami; the undisputedly independent People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL); the irrepressible critic even of just and calibrated people’s violence, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); the loose and broad coalition, Co-ordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO), as also the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF). But if I never became a member of any, it was a conscious choice, a humble decision. Even so, in case some inconvenience has been caused to any of my friends, colleagues and mentors consequent upon my arrest by way of misreporting by the media, disproportionate remarks by back-biters, or follow-up interrogation by any of the plethora of investigation agencies—all of whom would generally tend to distort the facts and circumstances of such cases and the victim’s real version, even to the extent of entirely concocted cock-and-bull statements and allusions, I am sure I can rest assured that we shall take all this in our stride, without undue leniency toward undemocratic, conspiratorial or vindictive actions and trends at any level, both within and without.

Our main, common concern should be to prevent and obstruct each and every excess, given the increasingly repressive apparatus, particularly that following the post-American 9/11 and post-our own 26/11 enactments and amendments by successive NDA and UPA regimes through some politically sterile and paranoid parliamentary machinations, in the form of POTA to begin with, and then the ubiquitous UAPA. The first Act we could successfully throw out all together, in the course of a regime change. The second still begs far more discourteous resistance than the cursory derision or ecclesiastic condemnation we have offered it so far.

While I shall miss the action outside as the poll fiasco seems headed to pave the way for potential installation of the next, supra-fascist regime, even as our chargesheet would be served, prior to a mock trial (what with video-conferencing already underway, right from the framing of charges till the final judgment, and not yet contested!), what else could be done in here but dream of dispensations free of UAPAs and colonial IPCs, where, in the words of Kobad Ghandy, published precisely a year ago, even “jealousies, hatred, one-upmanship, manipulativeness, etc.” could recede through “self-realisation” at the levels of our “subconscious and conscious mind”, until “we (may be) able to slowly reassert our natural self, rather than our alienated self”, so that “we (shall) be able to react and behave naturally—childlike, Anuradha-like—shedding our layers and layers of pretences and hypocrisies....” (Mainstream, December 22, 2012) To make such dreams come true, we shall have to contend and grapple with gargantuan armies of oppressors, finding our way through the labyrinths of law, encountering innumerable counter-insurgents in the woods and farms and plantations, the streets and highways and airways, and, not to forget, the diversifying cyber channels that lead to the drawing rooms and board rooms, to their hard or soft, archives and cabinets, in general to the corridors of the powerful that are ever more adept today at beguiling, enchanting, entrapping and belittling those of us who may be amenable or accessible.

Presently, in short, do we have an agenda for the broadest possible unity to quash out at least the UAPA? Yes, I mean the dispensation that has an ‘A’ between the ‘U’ and ‘P’, regardless of whichever ‘A’ (for Alliance) may rule the roost. The real encumbrance to any pretence of a democracy is the incumbent UAPA regime indeed.

Barrack No. 8 (Naxal Barrack)

Central Prison

Nagpur 440020 Prashant Rahi

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