‘The Incarcerations’ by Alpa Shah maps fight for democracy : The Tribune India

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‘The Incarcerations’ by Alpa Shah maps fight for democracy

‘The Incarcerations’ by Alpa Shah maps fight for democracy

The Incarcerations by Alpa Shah. HarperCollins. Pages 561. Rs 699

Book Title:

In the autumn of 2018, a wave of arrests of intellectuals, authors and activists sent the country into a tizzy. Eighteen of them had been arrested for inciting violence at the 200th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon and for plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister.

Through the life histories of these incarcerated men and women, who came to be known as BK-16, author Alpa Shah tells the story of three of India’s main minorities — Adivasis, Dalits and Muslims. The book shows how, in different ways and in different places across the country, these men and women were championing the fight for democracy for these minorities. If Sudha Bhardwaj was working for Dalits and Adivasis in Chhattisgarh, Arun Ferreira was a human rights lawyer in Mumbai and Stan Swamy was a Jesuit priest defending the rights of Adivasis against displacement. The others included Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu; and Sagar Gorakhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtab of the cultural group Kabir Kala Manch.

The book narrates how the BK-16 were “framed”, arrested and incarcerated for years. It unravels the global frontiers of cyber-forensic research to not only reveal that email accounts and mobile phones were hacked, but also how the electronic evidence used to imprison the accused was “planted” on some of their computers.

A professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, the author calls ‘The Incarcerations’ a story of the search for democracy in the world’s largest electoral democracy and finds it in the most unexpected of places. She insists that the protection of democratic rights in cyberspace must be at the frontier of any contemporary fight for democracy.