“It may be recalled that the KKM, a working class and mostly Dalit cultural troupe, was forced to go into hiding in 2011 after the police arrested and tortured one of them on suspicion of associating with Naxalites.
In 2012 a documentary film “Jai Bhim Comrade” featuring the KKM won a National Award and a Maharashtra State award. The prize money was used to start a KKM Defence Committee, whose lawyers succeeded in getting bail for the arrested KKM.
With renewed confidence that the awakening of civil society would give them a decent chance to seek justice, the rest of the KKM members in hiding decided to give themselves up to the police for questioning. In April 2013 Shital Sathe and her husband, the poet Sachin Mali, did a Satyagraha by singing songs in front of the Maharashtra State Assembly and were duly arrested. A month later the rest of the KKM followed by singing songs in the office of the Maharashtra Home Minister, R. R. Patil. From this group, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor were taken into custody, but the Minister assured those present that the State would view their matter sympathetically.
3 months later Shital Sathe was released by the Bombay High Court on bail, in part, because she was in the late stages of pregnancy. Almost three years later, Sachin, Sagar and Ramesh are still in jail, twice denied bail by the same High Court judge, awaiting a trial that never quite starts. They are now appealing for bail in the Supreme Court.
Shital Sathe, who has formed an independent group, has been performing in many parts of Maharashtra. She often sings songs composed by Sachin from his prison cell. The story of India’s marginalized people, whom the system suppressed for thousands of years, as well as the need to build a secular and democratic society, vividly and soul searchingly emerges from these songs.
It is no accident that in recent times on several occasions where Shital has performed, the ABVP has taken upon itself to disrupt, or threaten to disrupt her performances, on the grounds that she is an “anti-national”.
We have seen what such a concerted campaign did to Rohit Vemula.
Sincerely, Anand Patwardhan
Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee (KKMDC) Prakash Ambedkar (Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh) Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, Chennai Ambedkar Students Association, Hyderabad Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Students Association National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM) Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights Indian Peoples Theatre Association (IPTA), Delhi Jana Natya Manch (JANAM) All India Students Federation, JNU All India Students’ Association (AISA) Communist Party of India (CPI) Socialist Party (India) Jamia Milia Teacher’s Solidarity Association Anhad Navayana Sahmat
This event is Organised by the coordination of Nayeem, Arpita, JAC-UoH, and Anand Patwardha