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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 42 New Delhi October 6, 2018

Statement by Gautam Navlakha

Sunday 7 October 2018

The following is the press statement by human rights activist Gautam Navlakha after being freed of house arrest by the Delhi High Court on October 1, 2018. He was arrested with four other activists on August 28 and subsequently placed under house confinement by the Supreme Court. This is, according to Navlakha, the ‘Statement of an Urban Naxal’.

I wish to thank the majority and dissenting Justices of the Supreme Court for their judgment, which allowed us four weeks to seek relief in this matter, and the public-spirited citizens and lawyers of India for putting up a spirited fight on our behalf, whose memory I will cherish. I am humbled by the solidarity, which crossed borders, rallying in our support.

From Delhi High Court I have won my freedom. It thrills me no end.

My dearest friends and lawyers led by Nitya Ramakrishnan, Warisha Farasat, Ashwath, along with others in the legal and logistics team, literally, ‘moved heaven and earth’ to win me my freedom. I don’t know if I can ever repay this debt. Nor to the senior lawyers who argued in our favour in the Apex Court. The period of house arrest, despite the restrictions imposed was put to good use, so I hold no grudge.

However, I cannot forget my co-accused and tens of thousands of other political prisoners in India who remain incarcerated for their ideological convictions, or on account of false charges filed against them, and/or wrongful conviction under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act—UAPA. Fellow accused in the same matter have gone on hunger strike against maltreatment inside jails and demanded that they be recognised as political prisoners/prisoners of conscience. Other political prisoners too have time and again sat on hunger strike and demanded the same. Their freedom and rights are precious to the Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights movement.

But, there is reason to celebrate.

I salute the LGBTQ comrades for their monumental victory recently after a relentless and stubborn struggle, which has opened the door for as significant a social reform movement as the one fired by Babasaheb Ambedkar for the annihilation of caste, exhorting us all to ‘educate, organise and agitate’. Our solidarity was slow in coming, but your perseverance forced us to change. You brought a smile back on our faces and rainbow colours in our lives.

Also, the freedom won by the Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar Ravan and his comrades, Sonu and Shivkumar, from preventive detention is particularly reassuring because it shows the power of indomitable resistance against a socially entrenched casteist tyranny, from ground below.

My Salaam to friends in the JNUSU for the historic victory of the United Left panel which proves yet again that united resistance is the need of the hour—only thus can we face persecution and struggle so that it gathers critical mass support.

Friends, sacchai aur imandari se lade shabd goli aur gaali se zyada takatvar hote hain, aaj yeh saabit ho raha hai. Hamare geet aur kavitayon mein josh hai, aur hamare kaam aur lekhni ka aadhar reason aur facts hain.

To all my nearest and dearest, let us continue to speak up for the enforcement of our constitutional freedoms and against oppression and exploitation in all forms.

Let’s recall Pashke yeh anmol bol:

Hum Ladenge Saathi

Ki ladne ke baghair kuch bhi nahi milta

Hum ladenge

Ki abhi tak lade kyon nahi

Hum ladenge

Apni saza kabulne ke liye

Ladte huey mar jaane walon ki

yaad zinda rakhne ke liye

Hum Ladenge Saathi

Lal Salaam!

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