DNA, Mumbai- Yogesh Pawar- Dec 16, 2012
For the past two years, these undertrials have been protesting the failure of the judicial process and the high-handedness of the local district police. These tribals have not even been presented in court for as many as 23 months. Many have expressed shock and surprise that this is happening to people from a district which has home minister RR Patil himself as guardian minister.
Several of these adivasis have been repeatedly re-arrested after courts threw out earlier cases against them. “We have not even been able to come out of prison and even go home before the police arrest us again. Some of us have been in prison for nearly six years now,” says a handwritten letter written by one of the inmates, circulated by their lawyer Surendra Gadling. He told DNA: “When they find that many of the cases are being thrown out by courts, they simply stop presenting them.”
As expected, RR Patil says that these are “exaggerated” and “isolated cases”. “Our government is committed to justice.” Incidentally Patil’s assurances must leave many with a feeling of deja vu. In April 2011, replying to a question raised by MLC Shoba Fadnavis, Patil had promised the Legislative Council that he would review all cases of tribals arrested under Naxalism charges in Gadchiroli. “Its been 21 months since,” Fadnavis says. “If the government was serious about this, there would be at least some movement. In stead, more and more injustices are being heaped on the hapless tribals. This is a recipe for disaster as the state governement is going on alienating its own people.”
Fadnavis’ words ring true when one looks at the case of one and half-year-old Azad Kalmati, who was born in Amravati prison after his mother was arrested when she has been pregnant for five months. He has lived in prison with his mother while his father Rajesh Kalmati, despite numerous pleas to the authorities, has been kept in Nagpur prison. Incidentally, the local court threw out the case made out against the couple on September 23, 2012.
“Just when we were hoping that we will be reunited as a family, the police have filed a new case under the Arms Act against us,” complains Rajesh in another letter written from prison. Gadling says he is shocked at the callousness with which the police are disregarding even Supreme Court guidelines on not handcuffing under-trials.
The new prison, constructed over 17.5 hectares at a cost of Rs14 crore two years ago, is in shambles, with most of the doors windows and fixtures including electrical and sanitary parts worth over Rs20 lakh stolen.
- IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Eleven tribal women political prisoners observe hunger strike #protest (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Press Release- Serial Hunger strike by 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison. #Humanrightsday (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Dr Prakash Amte carried out vasectomies on Maoists in Gadchiroli (kractivist.wordpress.com)