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जेल: जहां सत्ता एकदम नंगी है | मनीष आज़ाद

तुम अकेले हो,

और कमरा भी बंद है,

कमरे में कोई आईना भी नहीं है,

अब तो अपना चेहरा उतार दो

बहुत पहले जावेद अख्तर के मुहं से ये पंक्तियाँ सुनी थी। जेल जाने के बाद ये पंक्तियाँ अक्सर मेरे दिमाग में गूंजती रहती थी। मजेदार बात ये है की जेल में सच में कोई आईना नहीं होता। पता नहीं ये पंक्तियाँ किस संदर्भ में लिखी गयी होंगी। लेकिन जेल के विशालकाय बंद दरवाजे के पीछे राज्य सत्ता यहाँ बिना किसी मुखौटे या आवरण के पूरा का पूरा मुझे नंगा नज़र आया। दरअसल यहाँ किसी आवरण की जरूरत भी नहीं है. क्योकि यहाँ किसी की निगरानी नहीं है।

सरकार या राज सत्ता द्वारा किये जाने वाले जिस भी अपराध को आप समाज में दबे छुपे रूप में देखते है, आपको उसका एकदम नंगा रूप यहाँ जेल में दिखाई देगा, चाहे वह भ्रष्टाचार हो या क्रूर दमन। कभी कभी लगता है की जेल बनाने का एक बड़ा कारण शायद ये रहा होगा की यहाँ सत्ता अपने स्वाभाविक यानि नंगे रूप में बिना किसी आवरण के थोडा आराम फरमा सके।  

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Short Releases, Long Sentences | Sahana Manjesh

Raju, a daily wage labourer was incarcerated at the age of 20 in the year 2000. He left behind two sisters and middle-aged parents. If Raju was to step out of prison for the first time now in 2020, the pandemic might be the last thing to bewilder him. In the time that he has been behind bars, his parents have passed away and he was not even able to attend their funerals. The house that belonged to his parents has since then been captured and sold off by encroachers. He was not around to contest the sale. His sisters have married in the meanwhile. His sisters’ husbands were not informed about his existence. In any case he no longer knows where they live. Raju worked on a handloom machine while in prison to earn some money, but those skills are not of much use in the real world. All his friends have grown up and moved to cities for work. 

How can he re-start his life outside prison? What real chance does he have at making a meaningful life?

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On Police and Power | Abhinav Sekhri

The use of force by police officers is a subject that continues to draw constant attention the world over and India is no exception. It is fair to state that police forces across the country have not been transformed post-independence from an autocratic force into a service for citizens. While very few of us question the predominant form of governance where the State has a monopoly on the use of force, police violence brings citizens face to face with the reality of what such a monopoly entails. The ambiguity in response — outrage at the deaths of some, celebration in the case of others — is perhaps only reflective of society’s own troubled relationship with the use of force.

Those musings aside, this short post takes up the issue of police violence from three specific viewpoints. First, I discuss why the abuse of powers by police officers matters and should matter. Second, I describe the excessive use of force as not an episodic problem which we witness only in cases of, say, custodial deaths and encounters, but as something that is deeply ingrained in every fibre of how the coercive state apparatus works in India. Third, I consider some ways in which this overarching coercive apparatus can be made slightly less overbearing each time a citizen enters the police station, in whatever capacity that might be.

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Colonialism(s) and the Global Politics of Dissent – Panel Discussion

We organised a panel as part of The World Transformed conference, held in the UK, with the help of Tanya Singh and Adrija Dey, that drew parallels between colonialism and the suppression of dissenting voices worldwide. Watch the discussion, read our live tweets and download the transcript below:

State surveillance, anti-terror laws and the rhetoric of ‘national security’ are being used to criminalise progressive activists and marginalised communities across the world. Speakers will discuss the colonial roots of policing and how histories of ‘anti-terrorism’ in the UK and ex-colonies, such as South Africa and India, continue to be linked before and after 9/11. We will also explore other colonialisms, such as China in Hong Kong. As states share and internationalise their repressive methods, we ask how we can build international coalitions of resistance.

Speakers: S’bu Zikode; Radha D’Souza; Gacheke Gachihi; Brian Hioe; Kerem Nişancıoğlu; Shalini Gera

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Digital Technologies and the Criminal Justice System – Twitter Curation

Srinivas Kodali highlights the role of digital technologies in policing and the resultant issues relating to detention, police accountability, surveillance, and collection of evidence.

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Shelter Homes for Children and Restorative Justice – Twitter Curation

In this curation, our focus was on the impact of childcare institutions on children (i.e., those below 18), effective interventions within such institutions, and the importance of working towards de-institutionalization.  #childrenInInstitutions

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Prisons and Police during COVID-19 – Twitter Curation

In April, 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, led to shutdown in India, we hosted two tweet chats to discuss the precarious situation in prisons and police’s management of the situation. We invited people to lead a discussion on the topics.

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Declared Criminal: Denotified Tribes, Police and Prisons – Twitter Curations

In November 2019, we hosted guest curators on our Twitter to explore the colonial roots, legacy & current issues regarding legislation that declared socially marginalized & nomadic communities as ‘criminals’: Criminal Tribes Act (CTA). Each of the curators took up the detsolnet handle for a week to explain several aspects of CTA.