Whenever anyone hears the word, Social activist, a picture gets created in the mind about a person who works for the welfare and betterment of the society or a certain place or a group. Since few weeks some of the social activists are in trend on social media platforms tagged with the term Urban Naxals and being accused as ‘Maoist Sympathisers’. Many of us know why these social activists are being called Urban Naxals.
Here is the list of some of the social activists who had to face the wrath of the police and got arrested for fighting for the rights of the people.
An activist working with Adivasi in Gadchiroli. He studied at the Tata Institute for Social Sciences, Mumbai and has worked as a Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow in Gadchiroli. Raut was born in Lakhapur village in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. He has done his schooling from Navodaya school in Gadchiroli. In 2009, he joined TISS, Mumbai to study social work. After completing his degree from TISS, Raut was selected for the Prime Minister Rural Development (PMRD) fellowship.
Raut is a co-convener of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vilas Andolan (VVJVA), which fights the displacement of marginalized communities. Under the VVJVA, he has campaigned along with Adivasi communities of the region to sell Tendu leaves directly into the market without the involvement of the middlemen. He has campaigned against mining projects in Gadhciroli, including the Surajgarh mining project. Following this campaign, on 6 June 2018, he was arrested by the Pune Police.
Shoma Sen is an assistant professor and head of the English literature department of the Nagpur University, and a women’s rights activist. Shoma is a member of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights. Shoma was born into a Bengali Kayastha family in Mumbai.
On 6 June 2018, she was arrested by the Pune Police and was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence.
Rona Wilson is the public relations secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP). Rona is from Kolam district in Kerala. He came to Delhi in the late 90’s, where he studied at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He was also booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Sudhir Dhawale is an Indian actor. He is a resident of Byculla area of Mumbai. He was born in a slum of Indora in Nagpur. During 2002 Gujarat riots, he launched his radical bi-monthly magazine Vidrohi and started a cultural-political organization called ‘Ramabai Nagar-Khairlanji Hatyaakand Virodhi Sangarsh Samiti’ in 2006 following the murder of four persons from a family in Khairlanji in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
On January 2, 2011, he was arrested for his purported links with the Naxal movement but due to lack of proper evidence against him, he was released after spending 40 months in Gondia prison.
In June 2017, Dhawale thought of an ambitious plan – of bringing Dalit leaders from across spectrum together on one platform to speak against the present regime. That’s when Elgar Parishad, a large-scale event with over 200 organizations participating in it was planned. At the Elgar Parishad too, Dhawale was involved in the planning and execution.
Surendra Gadling is a human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist based in Nagpur. Gadling is known for defending several political prisoners accused of being Maoists or extremists.
On 2 January 2011, he was arrested from Wardha railway station by a team of Gondia police and a team from the Nagpur division of ATS, while trying to board a train to Mumbai. He was taken to Gondia and produced before a local court which awarded police his custody until 12 January 2011. Subsequently, he was booked for waging war against the state under section 121 of the Indian Penal Code and charged with sedition (Sec 124) and booked under Sections 17, 20 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
On 6 June 2018, he was arrested by Pune Police in a joint operation, in which four others- Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, and Rona Wilson- were also arrested.