Rona Wilson is a research scholar and has worked on the condition of political prisoners, the use of draconian laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other legal conundrums. He has actively campaigned for political prisoners such as Prof. GN Saibaba, Hem Mishra, and others who were arrested for speaking against Operation Green Hunt which was a policy of war waged by the government on marginalized Adivasis in Central India.
Rona got interested in working with political prisoners after being actively involved in the campaign for the release of late Prof. SAR Geelani, a Kashmiri scholar and teacher, who was wrongfully arrested, tortured and subjected to inhuman treatment in the Parliament Attack case.
In fact, upon Prof. Geelani’s acquittal and release, Rona and Prof. Geelani with other activists formed the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP). Rona was the Public Relations Secretary of CRPP and it was through CRPP that Prof. Geelani and Rona involved themselves in Prof. Saibaba’s case and fought for his release.
As a part of CRPP, Rona Wilson organized several conventions against the unconstitutional nature of draconian laws like UAPA, National Security Act (NSA), Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), various state-level Public Security Acts (PSA), etc. and against the arbitrary use of the death penalty, a punishment that overwhelmingly targets Dalits and Muslims in this country. CRPP has demanded the implementation of the United Nations Convention on Prisoners and pleaded “to arrange legal assistance to those who are in a disadvantageous position or discriminated against toward receiving a fair trial on account of media projections or the police, military or Government’s undue propaganda”.
Ironically Rona has been made a political prisoner under the same draconian UAPA.
Rona was born in Kollam, Kerala, and lived there until he graduated in Zoology. Then he moved to Puducherry Central University to do his post-graduation in Political Science and International Relations. Thereafter he went to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where he received his Masters in Philosophy (MPhil). He loves football and closely follows the game particularly of Latin America.
Recently, he was accepted by the University of Surrey and the University of Leicester to pursue his doctorate. The topic of his proposed thesis is “The Fiction of the Muslim Other: State, Law and The Politics of Naming in Contemporary India”. His thesis states that “Islamophobia has been used as an ideology to consolidate the politics of Hindutva by the ruling class in India.”
He was inclined to study the social construction of the Muslim man as a ‘terrorist’. He wanted to understand how the law is used to create a fiction of a militant Muslim man, ‘a terrorist masculinity’, that is then used by an ideological state apparatus to create the quintessential trope of the Muslim ‘other’ amongst the majority of the population while projecting Muslim women as docile bodies that need the protection of the Indian state.
After the arrest, not only has Rona himself been unable to pursue his doctorate studies, but the legal aid that he used to provide has also been curtailed.
Rona Wilson is a human rights activist for life, and his struggle continues within the confines of prison as he knows only too well the cost of being targeted, branded, and denied justice.
This article was originally published on ‘Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy’.