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Hiramani Munda has been convicted with life imprisonment with fabricated charges

By Harsh Thakor* 
Hiramani Munda (Asha Di), a tribal rights leader, has been convicted with life imprisonment in the NIA and ATS Special Court, Lucknow, under different sections of UAPA and sections 120B, 121, 121A of IPC. There is a strong view that Asha Di has been fabricated with charges of sedition. Aged 53, she integrated herself with the democratic and left movement from her very youth.
Asha Di has with unflinching resilience fought for rights of women in rural and tribal areas of Bihar and Jharkhand since 1980s. In spite of originating from a humble tribal background, she relentlessly set about the task of grasping advanced theories and practices to transform the society.
She brought to the book some serious cases of atrocities on woman, and leaving no stone unturned, mobilised people against the feudal patriarchal hierarchy. Her work literally caused tremors in the camp of the administration.
Her movements garnered or evoked tremendous popularity, but provoked vengeance of the state, as a result of which she was branded a Maoist and imprisoned for around five years in 2010. Still this could not quell her relentless spirit and dedication to uphold the basic rights of Jal-Jangal-Jameen.
After imprisonment and deterioration of her health during the jailed period, once again she decided to integrate herself with the democratic movement in regions of North Bihar, exposing the offensive of the government, and invested every ounce of her energy to boost the next generation to join people’s movement. This invited further wrath and the vindictive nature of the state, leading to conviction of life imprisonment for her early this month.
Such charges illustrate how the fangs of opposition to dissent are sharpening by every day, allegedly penetrating the very heart of the judicial system, with dangers to tear the fabric of the Constitution.
The friends and family of Asha Di have appealed to all democratic and progressive organizations and individuals to stand in solidarity with them and provide assistance to her legal battle. There is need for all democrats to demand unconditional release of Asha Di and other political prisoners who are waging a battle for freedom and democracy.
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*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India

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