While festivity and cheer hung in the air in Bengaluru and across the world on the last day of 2020, it was business as usual in a small office in commercial Shivajinagar. A group of lawyers and staff in Manthan law firm were poring over documents, strengthening their cases against the government, which has been relentless in its attack on its opponents and had neglected the poor and deprived.
Sitting behind posters of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Che Guevera, a handcrafted sculpture of B R Ambedkar, and poetry (Unka Darr - Their Fear) of Gorakh Pandey, advocate Maitreyi Krishnan was planning a different kind of celebration — a resistance convention celebrating the Bhima Koregaon victory and demanding the release of jailed human rights activists for the New Year.
It would be three years since the grand celebration on New Year’s day commemorating the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon — wherein Dalits as part of the British army had defeated the army of Peshwa Baji Rao — had triggered violence and later led to the hounding and arrest of the activists even while those accused of instigating the violence were said to be still “missing”.
For Krishnan and two of her colleagues at Manthan, Clifton D’Rozario and Raghupati S, members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist), the case was one among many in which they fought the state machinery for the rights of unorganised sector workers and the poor and oppressed classes who do not have proper access to the legal system.
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