|Occupation||trade unionist, activist, lawyer|
Sudha Bharadwaj is a trade unionist, a civil rights activist against land acquisition, who has been working and living in the state of Chhattisgarh for 29 years now. She is the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and also the founder of Janhit (a lawyers collective) and is also associated with the late Shankar Guha Niyogi’s Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha.
Sudha was born an American citizen, to parents Krishna and Ranganath Bharadwaj, who were pursuing their PhD in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US. Bharadwaj returned to India at the age of 11, gave up her US citizenship at the age of 18, and joined the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, to study mathematics, completing the five-year integrated course in 1984.
Having been exposed to horrific working conditions of laborers in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar during her time as a student at IIT, she moved to work with Niyogi’s Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha in 1986. Determined to provide holistic development of the workers, Sudha got her law degree in 2000 from a college affiliated to the Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur.
While being associated with Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Bharadwaj fought passionately against corrupt bureaucrats to ensure proper wages were paid to the workers in the mines and plants located in Bhilai. She also engaged in issues of Dalit and tribal rights, specifically the right for land, the right for education, for health and for security against corrupt landlords. Sudha also wrote a critique of Binayak Sen's imprisonment critiquing the judicial decision and condemning it strongly.
On 4 July 2018, Republic TV aired a program in which Arnab Goswami claimed that Sudha Bhardwaj had written a letter to a Maoist named Prakash stating that a "Kashmir like situation" has to be created. Sudha issued a public statement contesting these claims. She called the attack malicious, motivated and fabricated, and added that she was targeted for publicly condemning the arrest of Surendra Gadling in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence and two other lawyers in Sterlite protests.
She was arrested by the Pune police on suspicion of being involved in Maoist terror activities 26th August 2018, along with five other accused across the country. Human rights defender and Freelance journalist, William Nicholas Gomes condemned the arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj and demanded Immediate and unconditional lift of the house arrest orders on Sudha Bhardwaj in a letter to Justice HL Dattu Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission.
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