Activists demand withdrawal of 50 Lakh Surety Notice Issued to Suvarna Salve

Suvarna Salve had participated in a spontaneous protest march from Hutatma Chowk to Gateway of India in order to protest the bloody attack on students and faculty of JNU by members of the ABVP.

suvarna salve
Courtesy: The Wire

Suvarna Salve, a student and well-known anti-caste cultural activist, is the lead singer of the group Samata Kala Manch. She participated in a spontaneous protest march from Hutatma Chowk to Gateway of India in order to protest the bloody attack on students and faculty of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), student-wing of the BJP.

The Mumbai Police has registered an FIR against her and 31 other persons for taking out this peaceful protest at which the police was present, no untoward incident was reported, no violence broke out, and there was no breach of peace whatsoever, in the wake of the protest.

A notice, issued on August 24, sought a surety of Rs. 50 lakh from her and two other persons to ensure Suvarna Salve’s ‘good behaviour’ for the next two years. The notice was issued under Section 110 (e) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and hence classified her as a ‘habitual offender’ and police have even said they will initiate proceedings to extern her from Mumbai. Many of the persons named in the FIR were not even present at the protest march and the Mumbai police have persisted with this case in spite of evidence of their lack of involvement. The notice clearly shows that the police are attempting to intimidate a young Dalit woman for expressing dissent and targeting her using a law that has its roots in the need to criminalize marginalized communities.

On Tuesday, activists in Maharashtra launched an online campaign to demand the quashing of FIRs and to free the activists without any “surety” amount. They have termed the amount as “absurd, excessive and totally arbitrary”.

A petition demanding the withdrawal of all FIRs against Suvarna Salve, signed by individuals and members of women’s organizations, student groups, civil liberties organizations, trade unions, and human rights groups is currently under circulation.

Sign it here.

The petition states,

“It is shocking that a student activist who has never been booked in any case so far can be classified as a ‘habitual offender’. Clearly, the police have targeted this young singer and anti-caste cultural activist with such a high amount as surety to intimidate her and anyone who comes forward to support her. Besides, the attempt to enforce arbitrary and ill-defined norms of ‘good behaviour’ is designed to curb her right to perform in public and will have a chilling effect on her right to freedom of expression.”

The petition demands that the notice be dropped and that the Mumbai police undertake no repressive measures against Suvarna Salve or attempt to censor her activities in any way. It also demands that the Maharashtra government withdraw all the FIRs related to this and other cases registered by Mumbai police against several activists and prominent citizens, named and un-named, in connection with the peaceful protests against the JNU attacks and the CAA-NRC-NPR across the city in January 2020.

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