Maharashtra – Statements condemning the the detention of Hem Mishra and others

August 25, 2013

In a press conference held earlier today (26th August) at the students union office in JNU, the teachers, students and an large number of student as well as cultural organizations of JNU along with the JNUSU, strongly condemned the arrest and profiling of Hem Mishra, who till very recently was a student in the Center for Chinese and South East Asian studies in SLL&CS, JNU. Hem is a known student and cultural activist who was arbitrarily arrested by the Maharashtra police, who is now showcasing him as a ‘prominent Naxal Courier’ to the media. He is a known mass activist. He is physically challenged and he has undergone two major operations in his left hand in the recent past.

JNUSU General Secretary Shakeel Anjum said ‘On ebehalf of JNUSU, we condemn the fictitious and surreptitious arrest of Hem. He was here last week, before he left for treatment. This is clearly an act of state terror’.

Prof. K.J. Mukherji from School of Bio Technologysaid, “It is not just the case that he is our student, we are concerned how the police picks up people. The state has a way of labelling people and branding someone as a Naxalite, and then it seems as if his civil rights do not exist after that. We have high profile cases – like that of Binayak Sen. Even Soni Sori’s case is an example. Anyone cannot be arrested for his beliefs, as Surpreme Court has said. The police use the JNU label to say brand people in a certain way, since people here speak about progressive and revolutionary transformation of the society. We as teacher stand in solidarity with our student” Prof. D.K. Lobiyal also reiterated that this is a way of defaming JNU. He considered Hem’s arrest as a clear instance of state terrorism and expressed his solidarity for his release.Prof. Alone recounted how similarly the Maharashtra state has repeatedly arrested dalit activists protesting against the Khairlanji massacre whose cases are still pending. Mausumi Basu expressed deep concern about the safety of the persons arrested. “Just saying that he is in police custody is not enough. We know what all happens in the police custody. It is very very important that we should know when he was picked up.”

Hem’s brother Deepak was also present and stated that he got to know of his arrest yesterday from media reports. His family members were concerned as they had been trying to call him for the last three days. “He had come here to study, These are baseless charges. I had met his friends who also told me that they also could not get through him for the past 3 days.”
Student organization representatives ranging from AISA, SFI, AISF, Students Islamic Organization, Naga Study Forum, United Dalit Students Forum, Untouchable India, Krantikari Nawjawan Sabha – all unequivocally condemned the arrest of Hem. Several cultural organizations like RCF, Bahroop and IPTA, JSM also condemned the incarceration of Hem. They said, “It shows how the fascist forces are scared of people who speak of justice. Hem Mishra is one of us, he does what we also do – to make people aware through the medium of culture. If we raise our voice, the government is afraid of it. It is a shameful act. This is what has happened to Kabir Kala Manch activists, Jeetan Marandi and others too”. Noted poet Ranjit Verma was also present in the press conference and condemned the arrest.

The Students then were about to go to Maharashtra Sadan to protest. But shamefully the Delhi Police confiscated the bus and tried to stop people from going. But despite that students reached the venue and did a vibrant protest. In the demo too, everyone condemned this illegal and unjust arrest of Hem. A memorandum was submitted to the Resident’s Commissioner.
We are yet to know for sure from where and when was Hem picked up. We suspect that he might have been tortured or intimidated by various other coercive means by the police. We demand that Hem must be allowed to meet his lawyer as soon as possible. We appeal to democratic and progressive sections of the country and the media to raise their voice against this continued witch hunt of mass activists and stand by Hem. We demand his unconditional release.

Statement from Democratic Students’ Union

Democratic Students’ Union condemns in strongest possible terms the arbitrary arrest of Hem Mishra, one of our activists by the Maharshtra Police. Hem Mishra is from Almora, Uttarakhand.He is the son of K.D Mishra, a retired school teacher. Hem has done his diploma in Mass communication and B.Sc in Mathematics from Uttarakhand. In 2009 he joined BA programme inCenter for Chinese Studies, in School of Language Literature and Cultural Studies. He is also a prominent cultural activist and singer. He is active in Democratic Students’ Union and Revolutionary Cultural Front. He is also an executive member of Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP).He is well known among the political circles in Delhi and Uttarakhand as a student and cultural activist.

Hem has been struggling over the years with certain physical challenges in his left hand. He has undergone repeated surgery and the ensuing complications left him in agonizing pain. He has had to undergo two rounds of expensive operations in the recent past from Vellore. He had on several occasions shared his wish to pay a visit to Prakash Amte’s People’s hospital in Bhamaragarh to enquire about the possibility of free treatment therein. Early this week he had left from Delhi with the same purpose and was picked up by the notorious Maharashtra police somewhere in Maharashtra on his way to the hospital. It was on the 24th of August that the police finally admitted his arrest and said he has been sent to Police custody for 10 days.

Hem is well known in Delhi and Uttarakhand as a mass activist. Yet the police are trying to frame him with bogus charges like, he is a ‘prominent Naxal courier!!’ Hem has a played a major role in exposing as well as countering the anti-people designs of the state through songs,poetry, plays and street theatres in the capacity of a cultural activist lending his voice to that of the oppressed. He, as part of an organized politics, shares the vision for a radical social transformation of the society towards a new democratic society and a new democratic culture –free of oppression, injustice and inequality. His arrest therefore doesn’t come as a shock. The state right now is in a spree to clamp down on students and democratic rights activists and trying to stifle voices of dissent. We strongly condemn this witch-hunt of activists. We must unitedly and resolutely fight the fascist designs of the state and its targeting of political activists. His arrest is in continuation of the ongoing clamp down on democratic rights activists that Hem has been framed with such false charges. We are witness to similar framing of Jayeeta Das a student and woman activist of Matangini Mahila Samity, the hounding and framing of Kabir KalaManch activists and similar witch hunting of other democratic rights and cultural activists. We condemn this arbitrary arrest and demand his immediate and unconditional release




Condemn the Arrest of Student and Cultural Activist Hem Mishra by the Maharashtra Police!
Release Hem Mishra Unconditionally!

It was on the evening of 23rd August that we at the CRPP received a call from a common friend about the alleged arrest of Mr. Hem Mishra, a JNUite and cultural activist. It was disclosed from an anonymous number to Mr. Shamsher Singh Bisht that Hem Mishra has been arrested by the Gadchiroli police. Mr. Shamsher Singh Bisht was told by the caller to inform Hem’s family. Apart from this there was no information as to where he was arrested and in which police station he was kept.

After a whole day’s effort through lawyers and journalist friends finally in the evening of the 24th the DIG Rajendra Kadam admitted to the media that Hem Mishra was arrested on the 23rd morning and was produced before the court on the 24th evening to be remanded to police custody for 10 days. All these looks clean. But when one digs deeper it is evident that Hem Mishra has been incommunicado for the last four days or so. It is again self explanatory that he has been picked up much earlier by the Maharashtra police and has shown the arrest only on the 23rd to fit to the rule book. The possibility of Hem being tortured in these days cannot be ruled out given the track record of the police. While his friends and lawyers were trying to trace down the whereabouts of Hem, the local media was abuzz with the arrest of a Maoist/Naxalite with two alleged couriers of a certain Narmada, a Maoist leader. Except a few diligent journalists the media was taken in by the sensational news provided by the police. As usual the police officials were soon to tell the media, once they admitted his arrest, that they got incriminating stuff from Hem. But beyond that hyperbole of a statement the same officials kept mum on what this incriminating material that they had seized from him! The police further claims Hem to be a courier for the Maoists from Uttarakhand! And further to add meat to the story they claim that he was arrested at a very sensitive place between Aheri and Etapally which is a stronghold of the Maoists. Anyone who is conversant with the modus operandi of the police in these regions or for that matter anywhere given their illustrious record of impunity will vouch that the arrest has happened somewhere else and it has been shown in this region deliberately.

Given the sensation driven reporting in a sizeable section of the media the natural curiosity is that why Hem Mishra has in the first place been to this area? Anyone who knows Hem Mishra—as testified by his friends—recalls a person sensitive to the issues confronting the adivasis of Central and Eastern India as well as someone who would find himself on the side of the masses of the people. A cultural activist he has been active in JNU and outside singing for the cause of the adivasis, against Operation Green Hunt, against the increasing instances of impunity of the state. He has been active in the student politics on JNU campus and elsewhere as an activist of the Democratic Student’s Union. As an executive member, Hem Mishra has also been part of the efforts of the CRPP to provide legal aid and in the larger campaign for the release of the political prisoners.

Given his sensitivity to people’s issues, Hem has been an avid traveller often venturing into different regions of the subcontinent that normally don’t attract others. He has also been part of several fact finding missions to record the plight of the people under the scourge of the fascist violence of the state and other private business interests out to loot and plunder the land and resources of the people. He was very impressed with the work undertaken by Dr. Prakash Amte and his family in Gadchiroli and had often expressed his wish to visit the place. Perhaps he also had this wish to look for some alternate means of medication for the persisting pain in his left hand after two complicated surgeries, albeit huge financial difficulties, to get some relief for a physical disability. The arrest and then framing up of Hem Mishra is a tell tale case of any person in the subcontinent to find himself/herself at a potentially “sensitive” place to be incriminated by the security/intelligence agencies as per their whims. And it is difficult for any other common sense to prevail where one can still refuse to accept the hysteria and frenzy of the ideology of the so-called ‘war against terror’ and believe with conviction that a person can still go to these places and s/he has their right to not be incriminated or harassed. The lawlessness of the law in these regions comes out in the ugliest fashion when someone from the urban centre gets framed by the security agencies. Otherwise the everyday life of the people in these regions has several such untold stories to tell, abound with miseries.

The arrest and framing of Hem Mishra is a step further from the security forces/intelligence agencies to further trample on the rights of the people who have been raising their voices against the worst kinds of miseries they have been subjected to by the state and its forces in the name of growth and development. Perhaps Gadchiroli is the only district which is administered by no less than 40 plus IAS/IPS officers. All claims of the state to bring the government and the administration to the people have only resulted in more and more arrests, intimidation, torture, rape and loot. The arrest of Hem shown at such a “sensitive” area where the atrocities of the state on the people are the maximum is also an indicator of things to come. Anyone who raises their voice in support of the people in these regions will also be subjected to the same treatment. Only a massive mobilisation of public opinion against such vindictive and incriminating conduct of the state can push back this grand design of the Indian State to build a Garrison State.

We strongly demand the unconditional release of Hem Mishra.

In Solidarity,

SAR Geelani

Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General

Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations