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photo-article-logo Sunday, 21 July 2024

Meet 10 ‘political prisoners’ of the Narendra Modi regime in jail without trial

From Kashmir to Pune, here are some of the most high-profile names in India’s prisons for whom the criminal justice process has been made the punishment

Our Web Desk Published 12.06.24, 04:18 PM

From the barrage of detainees from the CAA-NRC protests to the infamous Bhima Koregaon arrests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s time in office has been marked by a number of ‘political prisoners’ who remain indefinitely behind bars, with their trials still pending. 

The last data from the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2022, show that the number of undertrial inmates numbered 4,34,302 or 75.8 per cent of total prisoners.

Between 2016 and 2020, 24,134 individuals have been charged with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) alone, only 386 of whom have reportedly been acquitted. 

Here are a few high-profile political prisoners of the Modi regime. 

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Umar Khalid

Umar Khalid, a former student leader from Jawaharlal Nehru University, was arrested in September 2020 under the UAPA for allegedly inciting people through his speeches before the Delhi riots that occurred in February 2020. He continues to be detained without bail, with his supporters claiming that the charges against him are politically motivated and aimed at silencing dissent. He remains imprisoned at the Tihar Jail in Delhi. 

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Surendra Gadling

Surendra Gadling, a lawyer and Dalit rights activist from Nagpur, was arrested in June 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case under the UAPA. He has been detained without trial for years under charges including conspiracy and sedition, amidst widespread concerns over the fairness of the legal process and allegations of political motivation behind his arrest. He remains imprisoned at the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai. 

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Rona Wilson 

Rona Wilson, an activist and public relations secretary of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, was arrested in June 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. He has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the UAPA. He has been accused of inciting caste-based violence through speeches, and having Maoist connections. He remains imprisoned at the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai. 

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Jyoti Jagtap

Jyoti Jagtap, a Dalit and Adivasi rights activist and member of the Kabir Kala Manch cultural group, was arrested in September 2020 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. She faces charges under various sections of the IPC and the UAPA, amid ongoing legal proceedings and concerns over her prolonged detention. She remains imprisoned in the Byculla Women’s Prison in Mumbai. 

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Hany Babu

Hany Babu, a professor of linguistics at Delhi University, was arrested in July 2020 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. He was detained under the UAPA, facing allegations of having links with Maoist organisations and inciting caste-based violence. He remains imprisoned in Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai. 

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Sagar Gorkhe 

Sagar Gorkhe, a singer, Dalit rights activist and member of the Kabir Kala Manch cultural group, was arrested in September 2020 also in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Along with his fellow activists, he has been detained under various sections of the IPC and the UAPA, facing allegations of having links with Maoist organisations. He remains imprisoned in the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai. 

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Mahesh Raut

Mahesh Raut, a land rights activist and former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow, was arrested in June 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. He has been charged under the UAPA for alleged links with Maoist organisations and inciting caste-based violence. Raut’s supporters have alleged that he has been denied proper medical help at Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai. 

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Ramesh Gaichor 

Ramesh Gaichor, a Dalit rights activist and yet another member of the Kabir Kala Manch cultural group, was arrested in September 2020 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Alongside his fellow activists, he has been detained under stringent charges, including those under the UAPA, facing prolonged imprisonment without trial. He remains imprisoned in the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai. 

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Aasif Sultan

Aasif Sultan, a Kashmiri journalist and former editor of the ‘Kashmir Narrator magazine’, was arrested under the UAPA in August 2018 under charges including "complicity" and "waging war against the state" in Kashmir. His detention sparked widespread concerns about press freedom in the region, with international organisations advocating for his release. He is imprisoned at the Ambedkar Nagar Jail in Uttar Pradesh. 

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Khurram Parvez

Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights activist and chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, was arrested in November 2021 by the National Investigation Agency under the UAPA. He is accused of funding terrorism and conspiring against the state, charges which have been widely criticised by human rights organisations as politically motivated. He remains imprisoned at the Rohini Jail in Delhi. 

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