Sudhir was born into a family in Indora, a slum community in Nagpur.
He campaigned for the effective implementation of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. In particular he took up the cause of dalits in violent incidents such as the Ramabai Nagar Dalit Hatyakand in Ghyyhatkopar in Mumbai (1997), the Kherlanji massacre, Rohidas Tupe murder, Baban Misal murder, the Manorama Kamble gang rape and murder case in Nagpu and the Sahebrao Jondhale murder. Through his editorial, journalistic and stage work he tried to emphasize the plight of dalits in this day and age as some claim that he had no sympathies, much less showed support for, naxalites. They claim that he was a believer in doctorines of democracy and had therefore pursued the role of an activist rather than taking part in any armed struggle. His funding is also claimed to have come from fellow activists, donations and contributions from variohyus people, including those that he tried to help. His wife was an activist for women's rights before marriage and afterwards took up nursing to support their family while he pursued activism.
He is a founding member of the Republican Panthers Chalwal formed on 6 December 2007, for the elimination of the caste system in India.
Arrest and controversy
On 2 January 2011, he was arrested from Wardha railway station by a team of Gondia police and a team from the Nagpur division of ATS, while trying to board a train to Mumbai. He was taken to Gondia and produced before a local court which awarded police his custody until 12 January 2011. Subsequently he was booked for waging war against the state under section 121 of the Indian Penal Code and charged with sedition (Sec 124) and booked under Sections 17, 20 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). This put Dhawale at the center of a human rights controversy.
Activists and media are drawing attention to parallels with perceived persecution of Dr. Binayak Sen from Chhattisgarh due to alleged but unproven links with the naxal movement and social activism.
On 6 June 2018, he was arrested by Pune Police in a joint operation, in which four others- Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson- were also arrested. They were accused of having Maoist links and charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
- "The People's Fighters: Meet the Five Arrested in the Bhima Koregaon Case". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
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- Johari, Aarefa. "A poet, a lawyer, a professor: These are the five activists held for sparking Bhima Koregaon clashes". Scroll.in. Retrieved 2018-08-29.