The Incarcerations

sub-heading:
BK16 and the Search for Democracy in India
The remarkable and chilling story from Modi’s India of the Bhima Koregaon case, in which 16 human rights defenders (the BK-16) have been imprisoned, without credible evidence and without trial, as Maoist terrorists.

“A gripping and rigorous crime story about the murder of a once thriving democracy.”

—Naomi Klein

“Alpa Shah’s book is about the criminalisation and incarceration of dissent itself. It does us a great service.”

—Arundhati Roy

“No finer account has been written yet about the collapse of the world’s largest democracy.”

—Pankaj Mishra

“Essential reading for anyone who wants to know what is truly happening in India now.”

—Yanis Varoufakis

“Compulsively readable . . . an unsettling indictment of Modi’s India . . . Shah has a gift for non-fiction narrative, the book is . . . almost cinematic.”

Financial Times
$35.00
$29.75

Pre-order Now and get 15% off. Books will ship in August.

Adding to cart… The item has been added

Available only in North America from OR Books


  • 680 Pages
  • Paperback ISBN 9781682195185
  • E-book ISBN 9781682195192

about the bookabout

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

The Incarcerations tells 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.

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.

About The Author / Editor

Photo credit © Chiara Ambrosio Alpa Shah is the award-winning author of Nightmarch. She has written and presented for BBC Radio 4. She was raised in Nairobi and studied at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics, where she is now Professor of Anthropology. She will be the next Professor of Social Anthropology at All Souls College, Oxford from October 2024.

Read An Excerpt

The US welcomed Prime Minister Modi, in 2019, with the largest-ever gathering for a foreign political leader in the country. The weather forecast had promised a flood, but the Texan sky was bright and sunny as people inched their way into the NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans American football team, for the ‘Howdy Modi’ event. The crowd waited in anticipation, wrapped in their finest silk sarees, lehengas and suits, many wearing turbans of the Indian flag and Narendra Modi masks and T-shirts. For ninety minutes, they were roused by Bollywood dancers who shook their hips and busts, Gujarati garba performers who clapped and twirled in circles, and yoga artists who posed as downward-facing dogs. As the foreplay ended, the crowd chanted, ‘Modi! Modi! Modi!’ against the beat of deafening drums. Finally, Prime Minister Modi took the stage, hand-in-hand with the US President Donald Trump. Prime Minister Modi said, ‘Mr President, this morning in Houston, you can hear the heartbeat of this great partnership in this celebration of the world’s two largest democracies.’

* * *

In Texas too, protesters had gathered for a ‘rally for freedom’ and drove tractor-trailer trucks across Houston to the ‘Howdy Modi’ event. They complained about the increasing discrimination faced by Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Adivasis and Dalits in Modi’s India. The month before, in August 2019, just nine weeks after he was re-elected as prime minister in a landslide victory for the BJP, Narendra Modi had stripped Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state, of its partial autonomy after seven decades. He had removed the state’s constitution, turned it from a state into a union territory, which restricted its freedom to make its own laws, and revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that had given special status to the people of Kashmir, including the ability to bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there. Many Kashmiris knew that these changes would alter the demographic character and traditions of the Muslim-majority region by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there.

But their voices of objection were stifled. Ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of the changes he was imposing on Kashmir, tens of thousands of security troops were sent to what was already one of the most militarised zones in the world. A total communications blackout cut access to news about what was happening in Kashmir. In the longest internet shutdown in any democracy, internet services were cut for six months, and high-speed mobile internet blocked for one and a half years. Meanwhile, within Kashmir, a curfew was declared, 4,000 people were detained, 200 political leaders, including three former chief ministers, were placed under house arrest. Protesters were fired at by the Indian security forces with metal pellets that, since 2016, had already killed Kashmiris, fully or partially blinded 1,100 people there, and injured many more.

 

 

in the media

The Incarcerations

sub-heading:
BK16 and the Search for Democracy in India
The remarkable and chilling story from Modi’s India of the Bhima Koregaon case, in which 16 human rights defenders (the BK-16) have been imprisoned, without credible evidence and without trial, as Maoist terrorists.

“A gripping and rigorous crime story about the murder of a once thriving democracy.”

—Naomi Klein

“Alpa Shah’s book is about the criminalisation and incarceration of dissent itself. It does us a great service.”

—Arundhati Roy

“No finer account has been written yet about the collapse of the world’s largest democracy.”

—Pankaj Mishra

“Essential reading for anyone who wants to know what is truly happening in India now.”

—Yanis Varoufakis

“Compulsively readable . . . an unsettling indictment of Modi’s India . . . Shah has a gift for non-fiction narrative, the book is . . . almost cinematic.”

Financial Times
$35.00
$29.75

Pre-order Now and get 15% off. Books will ship in August.

Pre-Order Now

Adding to cart… The item has been added

about the bookabout

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

The Incarcerations tells 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.

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.

About The Author / Editor

Photo credit © Chiara Ambrosio Alpa Shah is the award-winning author of Nightmarch. She has written and presented for BBC Radio 4. She was raised in Nairobi and studied at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics, where she is now Professor of Anthropology. She will be the next Professor of Social Anthropology at All Souls College, Oxford from October 2024.

Read An Excerpt

The US welcomed Prime Minister Modi, in 2019, with the largest-ever gathering for a foreign political leader in the country. The weather forecast had promised a flood, but the Texan sky was bright and sunny as people inched their way into the NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans American football team, for the ‘Howdy Modi’ event. The crowd waited in anticipation, wrapped in their finest silk sarees, lehengas and suits, many wearing turbans of the Indian flag and Narendra Modi masks and T-shirts. For ninety minutes, they were roused by Bollywood dancers who shook their hips and busts, Gujarati garba performers who clapped and twirled in circles, and yoga artists who posed as downward-facing dogs. As the foreplay ended, the crowd chanted, ‘Modi! Modi! Modi!’ against the beat of deafening drums. Finally, Prime Minister Modi took the stage, hand-in-hand with the US President Donald Trump. Prime Minister Modi said, ‘Mr President, this morning in Houston, you can hear the heartbeat of this great partnership in this celebration of the world’s two largest democracies.’

* * *

In Texas too, protesters had gathered for a ‘rally for freedom’ and drove tractor-trailer trucks across Houston to the ‘Howdy Modi’ event. They complained about the increasing discrimination faced by Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Adivasis and Dalits in Modi’s India. The month before, in August 2019, just nine weeks after he was re-elected as prime minister in a landslide victory for the BJP, Narendra Modi had stripped Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state, of its partial autonomy after seven decades. He had removed the state’s constitution, turned it from a state into a union territory, which restricted its freedom to make its own laws, and revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that had given special status to the people of Kashmir, including the ability to bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there. Many Kashmiris knew that these changes would alter the demographic character and traditions of the Muslim-majority region by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there.

But their voices of objection were stifled. Ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of the changes he was imposing on Kashmir, tens of thousands of security troops were sent to what was already one of the most militarised zones in the world. A total communications blackout cut access to news about what was happening in Kashmir. In the longest internet shutdown in any democracy, internet services were cut for six months, and high-speed mobile internet blocked for one and a half years. Meanwhile, within Kashmir, a curfew was declared, 4,000 people were detained, 200 political leaders, including three former chief ministers, were placed under house arrest. Protesters were fired at by the Indian security forces with metal pellets that, since 2016, had already killed Kashmiris, fully or partially blinded 1,100 people there, and injured many more.

 

 

in the media