Sudha Bharadwaj is a trade-unionist, activist and lawyer who has lived and worked in Chhattisgarh for over three decades. On the 28 th of August 2018, along with other lawyers, writers and activists, Sudha was arrested under wrongful charges in the Bhima Koregaon case and put in jail under the draconian UAPA law. Part of the vibrant labour movement that began in the iron ore mines of Dalli Rajhara as a young activist, Sudha was urged by workers to study law and fight for them in the courtroom. She has fought hundreds of cases for the most exploited of contract workers across the factories of Chhattisgarh. Her deep empathy and relentless pursuit for justice made her alawyer for and of the people of Chhattisgarh. From the coal lands of Raigarh to the migrant worker slums in Bhilai, from the farmers of Dhamtari to the adivasis of Bastar, people would find their way to Sudha to help them fight for justice – whether to save their basti that was being wrongfully demolished or reclaim their lands from which they were forcefully displaced by mining companies and the State
In the courtroom and protest sites, Sudha has stood with and spoken out for the rights and dignity of the most marginalised of people in Chhattisgarh. Desperately attempting to curb all forms of dissent, it is this voice that speaks against oppression and for justice that the State is attempting to silence by keeping Sudha and others like her behind bars without evidence or trial. This campaign is an effort to describe her political journey, as we – her friends and family understand it. Read more to know more about Sudha’s life and her work.
The Bhima Koregaon Case: Every year, on the 1 st of January, hundreds and thousands of people gather to commemorate the historic battle of Bhima Koregaon, celebrating what is considered a significant moment in the history of anti-caste struggles. In 2018, during the bi-centennial celebrations, a Hindu mob carrying saffron flags attacked the peaceful commemorations, injuring several people.
Despite evidence filed by the local police against Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote andSambaji Bhide for inciting the violence, no proper action has been taken against them. Instead, several homes of dalits in and around Koregaon and Pune were raided and many were arrested. The incident also led to a series of mass arrests of activists and intellectuals across the country – claiming it is the anti-caste and human rights activists, lawyers, artists and public intellectuals who were responsible for the violence. With no evidence, bizarre fabrications and lies spread over 7000 page chargesheets and the use of draconian legislations such as the UAPA, they were branded “urban naxals” and accused of wanting to kill the Prime Minister! As of September 2020, fifteen activists, journalists, lawyers, intellectuals and artists in India have been arrested in this case. To read more about the case, click here.