Government trying to muzzle the voice of democratic protestors, says wife

A day after the arrest of the Mumbai-based Dalit activist and editor of Vidrohi magazine, Sudhir Dhawle (42), by the Gondia police in Wardha on charges of waging a war against the State, more than 150 human rights activists, social activists, writers and journalists protested here on Tuesday against the detention.

Mr. Dhawle, also a freelance journalist, was arrested on charges of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). He has been booked under Section 121-A of the Indian Penal Code, read with sub-sections 17, 20 and 39, and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He was remanded to police custody till January 12.

“He is a well-known human rights activist here who has been working with the poor for more than 25 years. He is being victimised by the government for not agreeing with it. Nothing he did was secret. He was an easy target for the police because he worked at the grass roots,” Anand Patwardhan, documentary-film maker and human rights activist, told The Hindu.

Mr. Patwardhan criticised the sedition law as anti-constitutional and fascist in nature. “It [the law] is fascist and a leftover of the British rule. It goes against the fundamental rights.”Mr. Dhawle's wife Darshana Dhawle, a nurse by profession, said, “Sudhir has always protested in a democratic and just manner. He has been active in the social movements since his college days, but it is not at all true that he believes in arms struggle. Though the police claim that, he has always protested in a democratically acceptable manner,” she told The Hindu.

“His arrest proves that the government is muzzling the voices of all those activists who are sincerely and democratically fighting for the social cause. The government does not want to see people fearlessly protesting on the streets against its wrongdoings, so it wants to crush them. Why isn't a similar treatment meted out to the perpetrators of the Khairlanji killings? How can they roam freely on the streets today, whereas honest and straightforward activists are being charged with serious offences?” she said.

Mr. Dhawle is one of the convenors of the Republican Panthers Jaatiantachi Chalval (an association for the annihilation of castes). He has authored few books and penned down articles in some of the prominent regional dailies.

The police raided his house at Byculla here on Monday and seized some material. “They have seized our computer's CPU and many documents and books,” Ms. Dhawle said.

“They seized books on Mao, Lenin, Marx and said that this literature is the inspiration behind the Naxal movement. They also seized books written by Sudhir. If all this openly available literature is the inspiration behind the Naxal movement, what is the inspiration behind the farmers' suicides, the Ramabai Ambedkar nagar firing? The government's stand is clearly anti-people.”

The Dhawles have a 10-year old daughter, Pruthvi, and 16-year-old son Kshitij.

“Pruthvi keeps asking me why the police have caught him [Dhawle] if he has not done anything wrong. They both are scared and wonder when the police will leave their father,” she said.