Published: 31st August 2018
A tale of two arrests: Why Vernon Gonsalves' son felt defeated both times his father was arrested
Sagar Abraham-Gonsalves' post on his father's arrest had gone viral, with many people coming out in support of him and his family
In 2007, Sagar Abraham-Gonsalves was a 12-year-old, growing up in the suburbs of Mumbai. Life was good for the young boy, until one night, the doors of his happy home were thrust open by a group of unsmiling policemen. They had come to arrest his father Vernon Gonsalves, a former academic and activist, because they had discovered some purported ties with Naxals.
Sagar's mother Susan Abraham, a lawyer, was asked to stay quiet and to cooperate with the cops while they raided the house. Little Sagar watched as his father was taken away, with nothing, but an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Five years later, Professor Gonsalves was released and life was back to normal.
Two days ago, he felt the same helplessness return to him. This time, it was a whole lot worse. Even as a 24-year-old adult, Sagar could do nothing but watch his 61-year-old father being taken away by the police, this time on what appeared to be a trumped up, mob mongering charge. The incident only heightened his belief that the government had taken it too far this time, "There are so many things you as an active citizen is supposed to do. That is when the helplessness heightens. The blatant way in which the state uses its power is scary," says Sagar. He penned down his feelings in a Facebook post that had gone viral, post the arrest of Professor Gonsalves.
Sagar tells us that his family and he were empathetic towards the cops at one point and his mother even made tea for them. "They were just doing their job. It was only after he was taken away that I realised my helplessness and that makes me angry," he says.
The sole motive behind Sagar's Facebook post was to let the people in his circle know what him and his family were going through and never expected it to go viral and get shared by close to 3000 people. He said that the support that he received after this has been quite overwhelming. "Thankfully, the general public is really supportive, especially my friend circle. A lot of people have shared it. That's really amazing. There are comments which are really hateful, but I haven't been asked to take it down. There are of course messages asking me not to misguide people," adds Sagar, who like his father stands firmly by his beliefs and ideologies. He is in fact, happy to show the other side of the story.
Sagar says that he is not well read or informed enough to understand the reason behind the environment of hatred against his father. "People, who are vocal against the government are clearly suppressed. It is a wrong policy by the state on certain sections of the people. There is a ploy to repress these people who are standing up for what they believe and speaking for others. They're being singled out There is an atmosphere of fear that is being created," he says.
Happy times: Sagar with Professor Gonsalves
Post the Supreme Court's judgment on the case, Professor Gonsalves is under house arrest. The case is underway. The next hearing is after September 6. "The Supreme Court will decide what has to be done next. The proceedings will continue after that," says Sagar.
Sagar also expressed his dismay over the term 'Urban Naxals', that has been trending on twitter since the arrest of the activists. "That's a very wrong and cooked up term. People are wearing it as a badge now. When people realise that common men are being branded as an urban Naxals, they're opposing it by calling themselves urban naxals too. It is an interesting strategy to deal with the malignation in the society. It shows solidarity. This horrible term is, in fact, backfiring," says Sagar who is confident about fighting till his father and the others find justice.