Jan 11, 2012-A smiling Arun Ferreira faced a barrage of questions on Wednesday here as he addressed his first press conference since his release from Nagpur Central Jail on January 4. In May 2007, Ferreira was arrested and accused of being part of a Maoist plot to blow up BR Ambedkar’s memorial in Nagpur.
The press conference was called by Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights and the fiery activist in Ferreira was much in evidence. He spoke largely about his jail term and how he plans to actively campaign for activist Sudhir Dhawale, resident of Mumbai and publisher of Vidrohi, who was arrested in 2011 near Nagpur.
Ferreira largely spoke of the “torture he faced and how he was forced to undergo two rounds of narco-analysis despite protests. “The hierarchies that remain in society exist in jail also,” he said referring to the 2G scam trial. “It’s a fallacy that every inmate is equal in jail because caste, class and money matter as much in prisons as they matter outside, and treatment meted out to each person is specific to that.”
Ferreira, who has come under the glare for being a Naxal sympathiser, stands firm on his beliefs. The activist said that he supported all people’s movements and it was up to the state to “end the cycle of violence”. “To end violence, the state must take the first step just as an elder sibling should take responsibility.”
“It’s good that because of me, plight of others facing similar situations has been highlighted,” said Ferreira adding that his case was in the forefront of media attention as he was from Mumbai, but there were “many other nameless faces that belonged to rural areas and whose voices were never heard”.
Ferreira is still deciding his future plans as he spends time at home with his family. But he is determined to raise awareness and fight for people like him who represent the voice of dissent but are labelled Naxal sympathisers and have been arrested. Ferreira has filed a petition before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court challenging his re-arrest and the slapping of ‘false’ cases. His petition mentions cases of 27 undertrials who “were abducted from prisons immediately after release and rearrested by Gadchiroli police between July and December 2011”.
Sunaina Kumar is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.com