Who is a Political Prisoner?

A political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’. Basically a person who  is behind bars to her/his dissenting ideologies.

A political prisoner as someone who is imprisoned for his or her participation in political activity. If a political offense was not the official reason for detention, the term would imply that the detention was motivated by the prisoner’s politics. These prisoners are victim of unfair trail and delayed or no justice at all.


Political Prisoner will be –

*a person accused or convicted of an ordinary crime carried out for political motives, such as murder or robbery carried out to support the objectives of an opposition group;

*a person accused or convicted of an ordinary crime committed in a political context, such as at a demonstration by a trade union or a peasants’ organization;

*a member or suspected member of an armed oppositiong roup who has been charged with treason or “subversion”.

Political prisoners are also arrested and tried with a veneer of legality where false criminal charges, manufactured evidence, and unfair trials (kangaroo courtsshow trials) are used to disguise the fact that an individual is a political prisoner. This is common in situations which may otherwise be decried nationally and internationally as a human rights violation or suppression of a political dissident.


A political prisoner can also be someone that has been denied bail unfairly, denied parole when it would reasonably have been given to a prisoner charged with a comparable crime, or special powers may be invoked by the judiciary. Particularly in this latter situation, whether an individual is regarded as a political prisoner may depend upon subjective political perspective or interpretation of the evidence.


Although there is no universally accepted legal definition of a political prisoner, and although the Indian state has deliberately tried not to formally define it, it is generally accepted throughout the world that any individual who has been accused of an offence, committed not with a motive of personal benefit, profit or gratification, but with a larger, collective objective, should be considered as a political prisoner.

 In India , Anyone who is accused of sedition under Sec. 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) should therefore automatically come under the status of political prisoner. The term “prisoner of conscience” was also coined by Peter Berenson in 1961 to refer to anyone imprisoned for their political beliefs, and applies to political prisoners in India, many of whom are imprisoned for just being members of political organizations banned by the Indian government.

However, the central government and various state governments of India constantly try to obscure the difference between political offences and criminal offences, so that the usual public sympathy towards political prisoners can be suppressed, and it becomes easier to make the conditions and sentences of the political prisoners harsher.

For this reason the Indian state has promulgated a series of laws, which although nominally supposed to control or prevent organized crime or terrorism, practically becomes the main weapons in the hands of governments to suppress political dissent. Historically these laws have included the

Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA),

Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) ,

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which was amended a number of times in the last decade to give it more teeth and make it more draconian.

It has been observed that each of these laws have led to gross violations of human rights by broadening the definition of “terror” or “unlawful activities” to criminalize political dissent and by reversing the presumption of innocence which is the bedrock of the criminal justice system.

Governments of the right, left and centre have used the undemocratic and human rights violating UAPA, which rejects many of the universally-accepted norms of criminal jurisprudence and natural justice, to keep hundreds of people imprisoned for years during the last decade. –

This Blog has been created to create awareness on draconian laws of india and the state of political prisoners in the country.

The political  prisoners include –tribals, dalits fighting for their lives and livelihoods, incarcerated Muslims as part of the so-called war against terror by a Hindu communal state, Kashmiri Muslims, Nagas, Manipuris, Assamese, Kamtapuris and others belonging to various national liberation movements and the Maoists and other political dissidents–in the Indian subcontinent.


The aim is to have cases and prison stories on the blog.


This blog is also a solidarity platform to support the freedom of political prisoners from all over the world .


If you have any important report/newspiece/document on political prisoners  which you think is important for the blog


email – icare4justice@gmail.com

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