Court is not just a movie but the personal experience of Vira Sathidar alias Vijay Ramdas Vairagade, an activist hailing from Nagpur, who has been on the police radar for long. He plays the lead role in this National award winning movie based on the lacunas in the justice delivery system. Sathidar says the movie has boosted his activism and strengthened his will to fight against the system. He was in Pune on Thursday for a special screening of Court for mediapersons.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sathidar said, “Mumbai-based activist lawyer Susan Abraham gave my reference to the makers of Court. I am an activist and not a professional actor. I never thought I would work in a movie. Most of the actors in the film are first timers like me. Thanks to our director Chaitanya Tamahane for casting us. Playing the role of Narayan Kamble, an Ambedkarite artiste, was not difficult for me. I have experienced the lapses in the justice delivery system”.
Vira was booked in an electricity theft case in Nagpur in 2005. He and his son were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for selling books with “objectionable” literature in Chandrapur in 2006. Later, police filed a C-final (closure report) in the case.
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“I had to deal with the police and court for about four years in the electricity theft case. Finally, I was acquitted. There are many like me who have suffered due the delays and denial of justice in court. The film highlight this,” he said.
Sathidar is the editor of ‘Vidrohi’, a bi-monthly magazine. His close aide Sudhir Dhawale, also an editor of the magazine, was arrested by the state police for his alleged Maoist links and acquitted by the court after three-and-a-half years in jail. He is also associated to organisations like Republican Panthers Jantiantachi Chalwal, working for Dalit rights and against caste system.
Pamphlets circulated by the organisation at Bhima Koregaon on Pune -Ahmednagar road on the occasion of ‘Vijay Divas’ on January 1, to mark the victory of a small troupe of Mahar community fighters (who fought for British) over a huge Peshwa Army, was discussed among the police circles. The pamphlet quoted Dr B R Ambedkar saying “Manavi Mulya Japnyacha Shevatcha Paryay Shashtra Dharan Karne Hoy (Last option to preserve human values is to take up arms)”. Police claim that the pamphlet is “provocative”.
Sathidar says they have quoted Ambedkar from his article written in August 1940. “There is nothing wrong in it……The system itself is not bothered about the human values of poor and downtrodden…Police asked me whether I supported Maoist violence. I said I am a Marxist. Marxism is the base of Leninism and Maoism…. I am a left Ambedkarite. Ambedkar said any kind of force applied to impose an opinion on anybody is violence,” Sathidar said.
“The film has made me famous. It has helped me as people’s faith in me has become stronger. Also, I can sense that the undercover police follow me less now. But I am not a superstar. After a few days, the fame will go and the same things will be happen. Let it be. I will continue my fight against the system….The new issue of Vidrohi will be against Dalit capitalism,” he said.