The Incarcerations

Alpa Shah


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HarperCollins Publishers
14 March 2024
ISBN: 9780008518806
672 pages

From the publisher

'A gripping and rigorous crime story about the murder of a once thriving democracy, exposing an arsenal of lethal weapons, some wielded on the streets, others in the courts and press' NAOMI KLEIN

‘Essential reading' YANIS VAROUFAKIS

The world’s largest democracy is facing the greatest challenge since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.

The Incarcerations pulls back the curtain on Indian democracy to tell the remarkable and chilling story of the Bhima Koregaon case, in which 16 human rights defenders (the BK-16) – professors, lawyers, journalists, poets – have been imprisoned, without credible evidence and without trial, as Maoist terrorists.

Alpa Shah unravels how these alleged terrorists were charged with inciting violence at a public commemoration in 2018, accused of waging a war against the Indian state, and plotting to kill the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Expertly leading us through the case, Shah exposes some of the world’s most shocking revelations of cyber warfare research, which show not only hacking of emails and mobile phones of the BK-16, but also implantation of the electronic evidence that was used to incarcerate them. Through the life histories of the BK-16, Shah dives deep into the issues they fought for and tells the story of India’s three main minorities – Adivasi, Dalits and Muslims – and what the search for democracy entails for them.

Essential and urgent, The Incarcerations reveals how this case is a bellwether for the collapse of democracy in India, as for the first time in the nation’s history there is a multi-pronged, coordinated attack on key defenders of various pillars of democracy. In so doing, Shah shows that democracy today must be not only about protecting freedom of expression and democratic institutions, but also about supporting and safeguarding the social movements that question our global inequalities.