Former Supreme Court judge B Sudarshan Reddy (third left) releasing a book ‘Sankella Savvadi’ authored by Arun Ferreira (third right) along with advocate Bojja Tarakam (centre), translator of the book N Venugopal (extreme right), rights activist G Haragopal in Hyderabad on Saturday | EXPRESS PHOTO
HYDERABAD: Though born and raised in an upmarket Mumbai locality Bandra, Arun Ferreira was more attracted to plight of the people living in jhopadpattis (slums) than his own neon-lit neighbourhood. As a student of St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai his tryst with social activism begun with organising welfare programmes for underprivileged in villages.
But his story would have gone unnoticed had he gone on with his activism without any hiccups. In his book Colours of the Cage, Arun Ferreira, narrates the spine-chilling account of his life as a political prisoner in Nagpur jail for four years and eight months. The Telugu version of book, titled ‘Sankella Savvadi’, was released here on Saturday. It has been translated into Telugu by ‘Veekshanam’ editor N Venugopal.
In May 2007, Ferreira was picked up by the Anti-Naxal Police at Nagpur railway station for allegedly conspiring to blow up Deekshabhumi in the city. That moment, he was in the railway station to meet some social activists. He was slapped with 11 cases that included the dreaded Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) branding him as ‘dreaded Naxal.’
He finally made it home in January 2012. Though he obtained a bail in September 2011, he had been re-arrested after days on the same set of charges. After going through the horrific experience of solitary confinement for over four years, he made it home in January 2012 with the prosecution failing to prove charges against him.
In the book, Ferreira explains how a prisoner feels in the claustrophobic confinement in a cramped cell without any ventilation and sunlight. The book narrates how inmates are subjected to extreme physical torture like policemen injecting petrol into rectum of the accused to “extract information”.
According to him, the book brings out the hope one gathers from thin air in a jail of walking out freely, and how inhumane behaviour is institutionalised in police system. Currently, Ferreira is actively engaged for the cause of political prisoners in the country.
After releasing the book, former Supreme Court judge Justice B. Sudershan Reddy said: “All political parties are overlooking the flagrant violation of human rights. Even in cases where there are no witnesses, several innocent are being held up in jails. There is a need for building up public opinion on this.”
Rights activist Prof G Haragopal said the State had just become a facilitator of economic interests of some corporate honchos. “The polity and politicians are today acting as mediators of corporates. To this effect, they have criminalised the society and brutalised the police system.”
He said there was a need to expose the “ruthless” nature of the State that wants to clamp down on dissent.
Explaining the book, translator N Venugopal said: “The book is heart-rending account of an activist who fights his way out of the jail even as odds stacked up against him. It is a story of extreme courage and hope.”
Senior advocate Bojja Tarakam and rights activist Seema Azad were also present. The Telugu book- Sankella Savvadi- is published by Malupu.