Sudha Bharadwaj is a prominent trade unionist, activist, and lawyer who has lived and worked in Chhattisgarh for over three decades.
Life and Activism
She was born in Boston, lived in the USA and UK, and at the age of 11, she moved with her mother to Delhi. She enrolled in the Mathematics integrated programme at IIT Kanpur and taught at many schools for a while. She then relocated to Chhattisgarh and after the assassination of Shankar Guha Niyogi (an important trade union leader in Chhattisgarh), she played a major role in mobilising workers and their families through Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee). She pursued law in the year 2000 and mostly represented union-led cases at the Chhattisgarh High Court. During her career, she has taken up cases against large mining corporations, including Adani, Vandana Vidyut Company, etc., who were vying for the mineral-rich lands of Chhattisgarh. She is a member of a collective of lawyers called the Janhit who spoke for industrial workers, land acquisition matters, environmental cases, and so on. She is also the Vice President of the India Association of People’s lawyer. She is also associated with other movements and women-led organisations like Mahila Mukti Morcha (associated with the anti-liquor movement), Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch which spoke against forced sterilisation of Adivasi women, and Women Against Sexual Violence and State repression (WSS).
Circumstances of Arrest
Charges & Allegations
Bharadwaj was booked under the Unlawful Activities Protection Act (Act) in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. The police claim that the six “incriminating” documents found during the investigation of the Bhima Koregaon violence indicate her association with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). She has questioned the verifiability of the evidence.
The Bombay high court on December 1, granted default bail to Sudha Bharadwaj. The court observed that “the period of detention of 90 days (excluding the period of house arrest) expired on 25th January 2019, no charge-sheet was lodged, there was no lawful order of extension of the period of detention and an application preferred by Sudha Bharadwaj for default bail awaited adjudication.”