“I’m Joining Ranks of Thousands Who Are Made to Suffer for Their Convictions”

In a statement released soon after being denied anticipatory bail by a Supreme Court bench, along with Anand Teltumbde, civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha says there is nothing “more pressing” for him than to clear his name.

Read the full statement below:

I thank Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah of the Supreme Court for giving me three weeks to surrender before the NIA (National Investigation Agency). I am grateful to senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal for defending us. I cannot thank enough my dearest friends-lawyers for investing their precious time to represent me.

Now that I have to surrender within three weeks, I ask myself: Dare I hope to be freed from the burden of being accused in what appears to me, to be yet another conspiracy trial, one more in the long list of such trials? Will the co-accused and others like them get their freedom back? These questions creep in because of the times we live in where civil liberties are getting progressively squeezed, and where only one narrative dominates, backed by crassness in public life.

The dreadful Act — the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act — allows for banning of an organisation and outlaws its ideology. As a result, the most innocuous and legitimate of engagement and interaction can become criminal in the eyes of the state. It is a law that makes the very process an instrument of punishment, without even waiting for the trial and its outcome.

So, I am aware that I am joining the ranks of thousands of others who are made to suffer for their convictions.

To draw an analogy from test cricket, which to me is the best form of cricket, where endurance, patience, fair play, grit and redemption grace the game. It is these same virtues that I demand from myself in this ‘test match’ of my life. There is nothing more pressing than for me to clear my name.

To my friends, colleagues and family — I cannot thank you enough for standing by me through this period. I remain in your debt.

Do please listen to Leonard Cohen sing the ‘Anthem’ and remember to:

Ring the Bell,
Which still can ring
Forget your perfect
Offering
There is a crack,
A crack in everything
That’s how light gets in.

Gautam Navlakha

16th March,2020
New Delhi.