To: PRESIDENT OF INDIA, GOVERNOR OF MAHARASHTRASudhir Dhawale, a Dalit activist, writer, journalist, and editor of a Marathi magazine “Vidrohi”, was arrested by police personnel of Durgapur Police Station (district Gondia) on 2nd January, while he was returning to Mumbai after attending ‘Dalit Yuva Sahitya Sammelan’ and a meeting on Dalit Atrocities in Wardha. He has been booked for waging war against the state under section 121 of the Indian Penal Code and charged with sedition (Sec 124) and booked under Sections 17, 20 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
From 1995, Sudhir Dhawale has been actively working to resist atrocities against Dalits and for effective implementation of the Prevention of Atrocities against SCs/STs Act (POA). He has tirelessly worked, within the democratic framework, towards ensuring justice in cases of Dalit atrocities such as Ramabai Nagar Dalit Hatyakand (massacre) in Ghatkopar in Mumbai in which 10 Dalits agitating against desecration of Dr. Ambedkar’s Statue were gunned down by police (11 July, 1997), the infamous Khairlanji massacre of Dalit family in 2006 and many cases such as Rohidas Tupe hatyakand in Palgaon near Aurangabad, Baban Misal massacre in Ahemadnagar district, Sadashive Salve Guruji Hatyakand in Beed distrct, the Manorama Kamble gang rape and murder case in Nagpur, the brutal murder of Sahebrao Jondhale in Marathwada, and many more cases of Dalit atrocities (atrocities on Dalits) in Maharashtra in recent times. As a writer, poet, playwright, freelance journalist and editor of Marathi magazine ‘Vidrohi’, Sudhir Dhawale has tried to bring the issues of injustice and atrocities against Dalits in the public domain so as to make democracy a substantive force and movement in the country. It is necessary to point out that he engaged in these activities not as a smartly paid cultural worker of NGO-based civil society initiatives, but his efforts were supported by funds drawn from small donations from fellow activists, concerned citizens, and the poor and oppressed masses themselves. He lives a simple life with limited needs which were looked after by his wife Darshana (who was an activist in women’s movement before their marriage). Darshana looks after the Dhawale family of four through her work as a nurse and supports her husband’s efforts Ambedkarian movement for justice and freedom from oppression.
On 3rd Jan a team of 15 policemen arrived at Dhawale’s house and barged in, his wife Dasrshana, who is a nurse at the Ambedkar Hospital in Byculla, was away on duty, and their 2 children- Kshitij, aged 15 and Prithvi, aged 10, were alone at home. Darshana, Sudhir’s wife, received a frantic call from their traumatised and terror-stricken children about the policemen rummaging through each nook and corner of the house and asking menacing questions regarding the whereabouts of their father. She immediately rushed home, when she, in the presence of her children, was interrogated, with a clear intention on the part of the police to coerce her into saying something which would help them implicate her husband.
The minimum legal requirements of carrying out search and seizure- the presence of independent credible witnesses, sealing in a safe container all the articles seized, and affixing the stamp of the police station on the seizure memo- were blatantly disregarded. At 10.30 pm, before leaving, the police ordered Darshana to sign the list of seized articles. She refused, because it was prepared in her absence- she was being interrogated in one room, while the list being prepared in another. She was threatened with immediate arrest and custody and hence she had no option but to obey.
1)-All charges against the Dalit activist, writer, editor of “Vidrohi’ magazine and active member of the Republican Panthers, Sudhir Dhawale, should be immediately dropped and he should be released immediately.
2)-The Police officers who conducted illegal search and seizure, fabricated the Panchnama should be punished.
3)- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Section 124 A of the IPC which relates to the offence of sedition should be immediately repealed.
4)-State should work vigorously to end the atrocities against Dalits and Advasis and toward effective implementation of the 1989 Prevention of Atrocities (POA)Act and speedy justice to the victims of atrocities, strict and harsh punishment to the perpetrators of violence against dalits within the purview of the POA Act.