In the middle of August the well-know Indian journalist and publisher Satish Kumar was framed and arrested in Faridabad, just outside Delhi. For more than 20 years he has published a paper called 'Mazdoor Morcha', which is renowned for exposing corruption and cases of abuse of power by the state authorities. So popular had the newspaper become that five years ago, it began daily publication. As a consequence of the newspaper's exposures and attacks, Satish has made many enemies within the local establishment and business community.
Satish has been charged with allegedly falsifying circulation figures in order to increase the number of official advertisements in the paper. This has been firmly denied by him. Satish's arrest was order by Ranbeer Sharma, from the Faridabad administration, who is the son-law of the central minister of state of the Home Department, Mr. I.D. Swamy. This act was completely irregular and illegal, as such matters come under the sole jurisdiction of the registrar of newspapers and not the state authorities.
The way in which the arrest took place was as follows: He was taken by six plain clothes policemen in an unnumbered car on the 18th August at 7 am in the morning. Fearing for his physical safety, his colleagues immediately reported the arrest to the Supreme Court of India. After this, Satish was taken before a magistrate who, without listening to the arguments of the accused, remanded him to two days in police custody, after which he was sent to judicial custody for a further 14 days.
Despite the fact that Satish is entitled to bail, the local court in Faridabad rejected the application for bail.
The news of the arrest of this popular left wing journalist, who has always defended the workers and poor people, sparked off widespread protests, with pickets and demonstrations.
A trade union protest rally took place involving more than 1,000 people in Faridabad, Haryana, including a host of journalists. This was organised collectively by the journalists union, the local CPI(M), CPI and Hind Mazdoor Sabha, one of the largest trade union federations in India.
Dharnas, protest meetings and demonstrations are going on in Faridabad and other places. A protest rally was held in Dharna and another took place at Haryana Bhawan near Delhi. The protest movement is spreading throughout Northern India where more and more unions are getting involved. The left parties are also participating at a local level.
The campaign of solidarity has obtained an immediate echo in neighbouring Pakistan. A national petition for the release of Satish has been launched by the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign throughout Pakistan. This will culminate in a rally in Islamabad in early September, with a protest march to the Indian High Commission where the petition will be handed over. This shows that the spirit of class solidarity is far stronger than the poison of chauvinism that divides the peoples.
An emergency solidarity meeting was held in Multan in Pakistan, in
which some three hundred journalists participated. Leading journalists,
Sajjad Malik Nazar Baluch, Khurshid Bukhari, and Aftab Nawaz spoke at
the meeting. "This attack on Satish Kurma is nothing more than an
attack on press freedom and is aimed at silencing 'Mazdoor Morcha',"
stated Khurshid Bukhari. "The authorities cannot be allowed to get away
They unanimously agreed to send a message of protest to the Indian Prime Minister against this arrest and demanded the immediate release of Satish. The protest letter stated: "We, the participants of this emergency meeting, demand the immediate release of Mr. Satish Kurmar", and warned, "if Mr. Kurmar is not released, then street protests would be organised to bring this scandal to the public's attention." An appeal was also sent to Mr. L. K. Advani, the Home Office Minister of India, to immediately stop this serious attack on democratic rights and end the persecution of Satish.
Now lawyers for Satish have applied for bail at the High Court in Delhi. Satish was brought to court in chains and informed that his application, although not rejected, would be heard sometime in December! In the meantime he would remain in prison. This shows the real face of Indian 'democracy'. In a clear case of political victimisation, the state is determined to silence this thorn in the side of the ruling establishment. This must not be allowed to happen.
Protests should be sent by email to
Mr. L. K. Advani,
Minister of Faridabad,
Nr. Delhi, India.
The protests should be sent to:
and to the Indian government:
Copies of all protests should be sent to the email@example.com, and to the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign
Messages of solidarity to Satish Kumar should be sent to Vinod Malik at:
Send copies of all protests to this address also.