Statement on the granting of bail to Comrade Hem

September 5, 2015

by Democratic Students’ Union

Ideas cannot be jailed, struggles cannot be kept in isolation..

Let the release of Com. Hem on bail be an occasion to renew our
pledge to continue undeterred our fight for a just & equitable society !

To the relief of some, to some others’ delight, and to the dismay, disconcert and disgust of a few, Com. Hem has finally been granted bail by the Nagpur Bench of the Mumbai High Court after two long years in the solitary confines of the notorious Nagpur Central Jail. It was two long years of struggle against all odds, 25 months of persistence against torture, 772 hours of hope against hopelessness before this bail materialised. But as the mixed response on his release (on bail) would suggest, Com. Hem means differently to different sections. For the lumpens of the sangh giroh – the ABVP, he is a “terrorist”, an “anti-national”. Two weeks back they took out a march shouting slogans against Hem and demanding that DSU be banned. For the state, he is also someone who is a “threat” to the country’s “unity, integrity & security”. For the corporate media, that parrots the police, he is a “Maoist” and thereby was involved in “waging war against the state”. But on the other hand, for the students of this campus, he is someone who has fought shoulder to shoulder for students’ rights, against caste discrimination, for Muslim Deprivation points, for gender justice and against the larger oppression & injustices in society. For most of us, he is also a vibrant cultural activist of the Revolutionary Cultural Front (RCF) who sang against the brahmanical-Hindutva fascist-neoliberal regime of death, destruction and destitution. For us, he is a political activist of DSU who dared to dream of a society free of all forms of oppression and exploitation and had vouched to work towards it – towards the New Democratic Revolution giving voice to the struggles against a state that is “waging war against the people”.

So, there is certainly a war that’s been fought – a bloody war – in which Hem chose his side in the side of the people. He was incarcerated for this ‘crime’ of his – as was Sudhir Dhawale, GN Saibaba, Deepak Dengle, Shital Sathe, Binayak Sen & countless others who are nameless, faceless. They tried to coerce him into conformity, drive him into despair. As Arun Farrera describes, the anda (egg-shaped) cells of the Nagpur Central Jail, unlike eggs are not meant to break out of, but are rather designed to break one within. The attempt thereby was to stifle Hem into submission. But to no avail. He took the struggle right into the anda cell and organized hunger strikes for prisoners rights, against the hanging of Yakub Memon, for democratic rights. And today, because of his struggle and perseverance as well as that of all the progressive democratic sections that resisted his unjust incarceration, finally he is being released on bail and is expected to join us soon again. The struggle for the removal of all fake charges against him and his final acquittal however continues.

While this is certainly a step ahead in our struggle, but then in another way, he is just leaving one prison cell and would join us in this larger prison-house of oppression and injustice of which we are all inmates. Some people call this prison-house “democracy”. Some even have the audacity to claim that Hem’s release is indicative of the fact that democracy is intact in this country. Such are the contours of this so called “democracy” that someone like Hem can just be abducted alone from a railway station and then claimed to have been with Pandu Narote and Mahesh Tirki ”moving in a suspicious manner near Aheri bus stand” (this is exactly what the public prosecutor argued to justify his arrest!). In this “democracy” he could then be tortured in undeclared illegal custody for three days before declaring his arrest and then kept waiting for six months (as per UAPA) for the police to cook up “charges” and weave a story. In this “democracy” a 90% disabled bound professor and public figure like GN Saibaba is literally kidnapped and imprisoned in solitary confines. Even his life-support medicines and prescribed diet were stopped with the fear that this wheel-chair bound person might plan a “jail-break”! This is a “democracy” wherein activists like Sudhir Dhawale are picked up for the possession of the books of Ambedkar & Bhagat Singh, cultural activists like those of KKM, Hem or Jiten Marandi are arrested or even given death sentence (as in the latter case)! While on the other hand this “democracy” not just aides but also acquits the killers of the dalits in Bathanitola or Tsunduru, the butchers of the Muslims in Gujarat or Hashimpura, the murderers of the adivasis in Chattisgarh or Jharkhand, the rapists of Kunan Poshpora or Manipur. This is a “democracy” where the known RSS assailants of Pansare, Dhabolkar, Shahid Azmi, or Ganti Prasadam remain “unknown”, while thousands of Muslims are witch-hunted, jailed or killed in fake-encounters being framed for state-orchestrated “terror-attacks” being claimed as the handiwork of newer ‘master-minds’ and ‘modules’ that get invented every other day! This “democracy” hangs people to “satisfy” its blood-thirsty Hindutva “collective conscience” whereas the same so called “collective conscience” is not even pricked by the horrors of Salwa Judum or the biggest military operation being waged against the most oppressed people of the country in the name of Operation Green Hunt at the behest of the state-corporate nexus, the mining mafias and the diktats of the imperialist market. So, if for no crime of one, or rather for the “crime” of speaking up against pervading injustice Com. Hem can be incarcerated for two years without trial, while a mass murderer is made into a prime minister of a country, – then there is nothing to be celebrated about such a “democracy”! Most unfortunately unlike the fascist ruling classes for whom “democracy” has just been a joke, a drama, a charade enacted to fool the people they rule for the last 68 years; it is rather the parliamentary “left” who has taken it so seriously only to justify their own opportunist existence (or not) in the muck of parliamentary opportunism and to guise their betrayal of the ground struggles from Tebhaga, Telangana to Naxalbari.

But the prairie fire of Naxalbari from that one village in last 50 years has emerged as the “biggest internal security threat” for the ruling classes in the shape of a swelling wave of people’s struggles across the country. Com. Hem is one of those who believe in the spirit of Naxalbari and hence he too is a “threat”. The state is afraid of not just some armed guerrillas. The arrest of a cultural & political activist like Com. Hem and others only shows that the state above all is afraid of the idea that it is possible to have a society free of injustices, a society that is equitable and that it is a cause worth fighting for. Let the occasion of Hem’s release be an occasion to renew our pledge to continue this fight undeterred.