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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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.