Mumbai

‘Maa chose to serve her people. Is that anti-national?’ Sudha Bharadwaj's daughter

Sudha Bharadwaj and daughter Maaysha  

Noted human rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj was arrested by the Pune police from her residence in Faridabad in August 2018 in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case.

With the activist completing two years in prison, her 23-year-old daughter Maaysha has penned a letter reflecting on life spent away from her. In her letter, Ms. Bharadwaj says, “Today, two years ago, maa got arrested. Things were different when she was under house arrest, I could see her, touch her, talk to her. But after she was taken to jail, I feel like my heart has been torn apart and ripped out. I am having an enormously difficult time handling myself. I cried for months after her arrest.”

Ms. Bharadwaj, who lives alone in Faridabad, writes, “When I used to visit her in Pune court, I would see her stand as a criminal, being escorted by the police and constantly surrounded by them. It was a painful sight. I don’t know how she is coping in jail. Once when I tried hugging her inside the court, but a policewoman ruthlessly pulled my hand. I was outraged, but maa was still patient and nice to them.”

“When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and prisoners were allowed to call their families, I would wait every day for her call but to no avail. Finally, on June 9, I heard her voice after four months, it made me very happy and emotional,” Ms. Bharadwaj writes.

She says, “My mother gave up her American citizenship to live in India and serve people here. But the government is saying she gave up her citizenship to use poor people and manipulate them against the government. So, I would like to ask, ‘Is there any person who has given up luxury and a good life in America just to serve the people of their country? And then to be labelled an anti-national? My grandmother [Krishna Bharadwaj], who was a well-known economist, wanted my mother to be like her. But my mother chose her own path; she chose to serve her people. Is that anti-national?”

She says, “I used to always fight with maa over why she chose this work in an area where she has to work day and night without thinking about her health. She would say, ‘If people like us won’t work then how will poor people get justice?’ I wanted to live a normal life where my mother would prepare my tiffin box, drop me to school or college, make me study, just like any other mother. But I suppose she was not meant to be a normal mother. She is special. Only few people in this world have the courage to work like she does. Which I suppose, is one of the reasons why she is in jail.”

Ending the note, Ms. Bharadwaj writes, “Whatever I’m doing today without my mother, I feel is a reflection of her: strong, independent and fearless. I know that she is stronger than me.” Quoting author Brad Meltzer, she writes, “When you believe in something, fight for it and when you see injustice, fight harder than you’ve ever fought before.”


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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 8:44:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/maa-chose-to-serve-her-people-is-that-anti-national/article32460262.ece

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