Sheetal Sathe is a folk singer, poet, and Dalit rights activist from Pune, Maharashtra, India. She rose to prominence within Maharashtra as one of the lead singers of the troupe Kabir Kala Manch in the mid-2000s.
In May 2011, a crackdown by the Anti-Terrorism Squad on musicians and poets accused of promoting Maoist or Naxalite ideology led to Sathe and other members of Kabir Kala Manch going into hiding.
Sathe and her husband, Sachin Mali, also a member of Kabir Kala Manch, finally came out of hiding on 2 April 2013 at the Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai, declaring it an act of saty?graha for free expression and not "surrender", while also maintaining their innocence of the charges leveled against them. But in spite of her pregnancy, Sathe, along with her husband, were denied bail immediately and again on 4 June 2013 by the Mumbai Sessions Court. Finally she was granted bail by the Bombay high court on 28 June 2013 on humanitarian grounds.
Since 2007, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan had filmed Kabir Kala Manch performances and interviewed Sathe extensively while gathering footage for Jai Bhim Comrade, a film about caste tensions and violence stemming from the police killings at Ramabai Nagar, Mumbai in 1997. Jai Bhim Comrade was finally released in 2011, according to Patwardhan, "so that people like Sheetal can come out in the open again and prove that they hadn't done anything wrong, anything more than speak up for the powerless". The film, which was screened in colleges and universities around India, introduced Sathe's music and message to an audience outside Maharashtra.
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