Hyderabad: A report has revealed that India is among the top 10 countries that have “unjustly” jailed writers, academics, and public intellectuals in connection with their writing, their work, or related advocacy.
The 2021 Freedom to Write report published by Pen America, a non-governmental organisation, noted that at least 277 writers and academics in 36 countries have been jailed. Eight of the individuals are from India. They are comedian Munawar Faruqui and Bhima Koregaon accused persons Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Hany Babu, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, and Anand Teltumbde.
Faruqui was imprisoned in January of 2021 and received interim bail a month later. Of those arrested in connection with instigating “caste-based violence” in the Bhima Koregaon villages in August 2018, poet Varavara Rao was granted medical bail and activist Sudha Bharadwaj was released on probation after almost three years of being imprisoned.
The report stated that those, particularly at risk, include those with “a history of advocating on behalf of India’s marginalized and minority groups, challenging the caste system and promoting the rights of economically disadvantaged populations, and those who have spoken out against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s increasingly virulent brand of Hindu nationalism.”
With eight “unjust” imprisonments, India occupies ninth place on the list. It is preceded by China, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Belarus, and Vietnam.