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Activists, journalists protest arrest of Dhawle

Vinaya Deshpande

‘Sedition law are anti-constitutional and fascist in nature'

Police raid Dhawle's house, seize books and documents

Mumbai: A day after the Mumbai-based Dalit activist, editor of ‘ Vidrohi' magazine and freelance journalist Sudhir Dhawle (42) was arrested by the Gondia police in Wardha on charges of waging war against the State, more than 150 human rights activists, social activists, writers and journalists protested here.

Mr. Dhawle was arrested for his association with the banned Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). He has been booked under Section 121-A of the Indian Penal Code read with sub-sections 17, 20 and 39, and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and remanded to police custody till January 12.

“He is a well-known human rights activist here who has been working with the poor for more than 25 years. He is being victimised by the government for not agreeing with it. Nothing he did was secret. He was an easy target for the police because he worked at the grassroots,” Anand Patwardhan, a well known documentary-film maker and human rights activist, told The Hindu.

He criticised the sedition law as anti-constitutional and fascist in nature. “It [the law] is fascist and is a leftover of the British rule. It goes against the fundamental rights.”Mr. Dhawle's wife Darshana Dhawle, a nurse, also raised her voice against his arrest.

“Sudhir has always protested in a democratic and just manner. He has been active in the social movements since his college days, but it is not at all true that he believes in arms struggle. Though the police claim that, he has always protested in a democratically acceptable manner,” she told The Hindu.

“His arrest proves that the government is muzzling the voices of all those activists who are sincerely and democratically fighting for the social cause. The government does not want to see people fearlessly protesting on the streets against its wrongdoings, so it wants to crush them. Why isn't a similar treatment meted out to the perpetrators of the Khairlanji killings? How can they roam freely on the streets today, whereas honest and straightforward activists are being charged with serious offences?” she agitatedly asked.

Mr. Dhawle is one of the convenors of the Republican Panthers Jaatiantachi Chalval (an association for the annihilation of castes). He is a Dalit activist and has authored a few books and penned down quite a few articles in some of the prominent regional dailies.

The police conducted a raid at his house at Byculla here on Monday and seized some material.

“They have seized our computer's CPU Central Processing Unit and many documents and books,” Ms. Dhawle Darshana said.

“They seized books on Mao, Lenin, Marx and said that this literature is the inspiration behind the Naxal movement. They also seized books written by Sudhir. If all this openly available literature is the inspiration behind the Naxal movement, what is the inspiration behind the farmers' suicides, the Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar firing? The government's stand is clearly anti-people.”

Mr. Dhawle's ten-year old daughter Pruthvi and 16-year-old son Kshitij are shocked after hearing about their father's arrest.

“Pruthvi keeps asking me why the police have caught him if he has not done anything wrong. They both are scared and wonder when the police will leave their father,” Ms. Dhawle said.

“I talked to him on the phone on Tuesday morning. He said the interrogation has not yet properly begun. I am planning to go there soon.”

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