Is Gautam Navlakha being moved to the ‘anda cell’ an indication that the accused in the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case will face solitary confinement?
The anda cell is not a solitary confinement but a space of extra security inside, a prison within the prison. Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferrera, Surendra Gadling, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorke were the first to be transferred to the anda cell. Then Gautam was sent there. No one responded or wrote when the first four were sent to anda. All this came out only when a press statement was issued by his wife when Gautam was transferred. The prison warden has changed, and with that came this change.
That is the next question. At present people seem to be thinking about UAPA in a conscious way. Why have protests against this law not been so strong since its inception?
It seems to me that when it comes to the prison system, only a small group speaks out against such cases. It will be an elite liberal left group. It doesn’t really reach others. There are other categories that are worried about this. About 27,000 Adivasis have been branded as Maoists as I said earlier, and are in jail. This is one of the most popular discourses in our country. Take the case of Stan Swamy himself. Stan Swamy stood as an ally. He stood as part of the Adivasi resistance. Even when we talk about Stan Swamy, we do not talk about the Adivasi resistance. Their voices will not come. Even if it does come, it will come through the mediation or medium of a left liberal group filled with savarnas. This is a big problem. Whites never took up black causes in the US. Blacks fought their own causes. Here the oppressor will oppress and will also fight for the oppressed. And when that happens the oppressed will not only be oppressed but will also become voiceless.
There is a terrible caste system in our country. It seems that the same caste system exists in the production of knowledge and the creation of discourse. Savarnas have colonized everything including knowledge. They create dominant knowledge here. They talk about everything, they write books. We still do not have a mainstream public sphere where the masses can speak. We do not have decision making by us. We are not even represented in the judiciary. Now all these discussions are going on in a small group.
In such a situation, nothing important will come out. The current government does not care about this small group. It is as if they did not even hear what they were saying. Our knowledge creation is very racial. Things that are important to the masses take place in an alternative place. That alternative place has no authority. Consider that we still do not have a national media of our own. Whatever there is, is because of the internet. The savarnas here fear everyone just as the Americans fear others. They fear others will take their jobs and occupy their space. This fear is the emotional basis of their power. It’s the emotion they whip up to maintain their power. Both in themselves and others around them. This is how it is maintained. So it can be said that they are people who live in fear. They want the UAPA and think that more and more people should be imprisoned and tortured so that their safety or their caste hegemony remains.
Let me mention one more thing about our prisons. The IITs are getting huge funding because their constituency are the people of the ruling class here. But the people who come into the judicial system as prisoners are people who have no power. The people who decide the policies and administration here, do not want to make a facility for them, whether inside or outside the prison or within the legal system. For them it’s important to hurt them. If the whole prison were Brahmins or upper castes, would they be so complacent? What’s going on inside the jail? No political group takes it seriously. The Black Movement had made prison a central theme, it was widely criticized and written from within and outside. But the identity groups here are different. In the end, only a handful of Muslim organizations and leftliberals take up prison issues. And they don’t have much power.