|Headquarters||Pune, Maharashtra, India|
Kabir Kala Manch was a cultural organisation that was formed in Pune, Maharashtra, India, in 2002 in the wake of the Gujarat riots. Through music, poetry and theatre, it aims to spread an anti-caste, pro-democracy message. It comprises students and young professionals who perform protest poetry and plays in slums and streets.
After the Gujarat riots of 2002, a group of students came together and formed Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural group which, through their music and poetry, took up the cause of social inequality, exploitation of the underclasses, farmer suicides, female infanticide, Dalit killings and the widening net of corruption.
Kabir Kala Manch activists were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as being "Maoists" and "Naxalites" by the Government of Maharashtra. In May 2011, a crackdown by the Anti-Terrorism Squad on musicians and poets accused of promoting Maoist or Naxalite ideology led to Sheetal Sathe and other members of Kabir Kala Manch going into hiding.
On 2 April 2013, Sheetal Sathe and her husband Sachin Male, also a member of KKM, came out of hiding from the police in Mumbai while maintaining that they were innocent of the charges and insisting their act did not constitute "surrender", after two members of KKM, Deepak Dengle and Siddharth, were granted bail by the Bombay High Court. But in spite of her pregnancy, Sheetal, along with her husband, were denied bail immediately and again on 4 June 2013 by the Mumbai Sessions Court. She was finally granted bail by the Bombay High Court on 28 June 2013 on humanitarian grounds. On 3 January 2017, the remaining arrested members of the group -- Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Ghaichor -- were granted bail by the Supreme Court of India.
KKM members along with the event's organisers, were attacked by the members of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad after their performance at National Film Archive of India (NFAI), organized by the students of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
From 2007, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan 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.
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.