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PUCL, July 2007


PEOPLE'S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, CHHATTISGARH; Post Box-87, Main Post Office, Raipur, Chhattisgarh; E-mail: pucl.cg@gmail.com;

The Chhattisgarh PUCL called an extended meeting on 29th July 2007 between 2- 7pm at the Gass Memorial Centre, Raipur. Representatives of various progressive and left political parties, peoples organizations, NGOs, human rights organizations as well as intellectuals and advocates had been invited to this meeting convened on the issue of suppression of social activists and repressive laws, and about 100 persons attended the same. Prominent among the speakers, apart from the PUCL post bearers, were Senior Advocate Shri Kanak Tiwari, Shri Subhash Mohapatra (Forum for Fact Finding and Documentation), Shri OP Singh (CPI), Shri Janaklal Thakur (Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha), Shri Bharat Bhushan Pandey (CPI(ML)), Shri Praveenbhai Patel (Tribal Welfare Society), Ms Zukelha Zabin, Shri JP Dewangan (Adivasi Mazdoor Sangathan), Dr. Lakhan Singh etc.

The following are the resolutions passed by the meeting after detailed deliberations:

1. The meeting condemned the harassment and victimization meted out to social activists and human rights defenders in the State by filing false cases against them. In particular -

A false and fabricated case for obstructing public servants, abuse and intimidation has been lodged against Subhash Mohapatra, Director, Forum for Fact finding and Documentation, by an employee of the State Human Rights Commission only because Shri Mohapatra had filed more than 400 complaints of human rights violations in the SHRC and has also obtained relief for some of the victims by filing cases in the High Court and Supreme Court for instance, the historical directions in the case of custodial death of an adivasi Ramkumar Dhruv in Thana Suhela.

A case of encroaching on village forest has suddenly been made out on the Vanvasi Chetana Ashram, Dantewada run by the Gandhian social activist Shri Himanshu Kumar for the past 16 years. Government programmes such as the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, Sampoorna Swatchhata Abhiyan and Mitanin programmes were being supported by the VCA. It appears that this false and fabricated case has been instituted since Shri Himanshu had raised certain uncomfortable questions regarding the implementation of Salwa Judum and also condemned fake encounter of two adivasis in nearby village Balud.

A case of abuse and intimidation under the SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act has been gotten filed against two lawyers of the CPI Shri Amarnath Pandey and Shri DP Yadav in Ambikapur, district Sarguja at the behest of SP Balrampur SR Kalluri. It is well known that Shri Pandey had taken up the issues of the fake encounter of one Narayan Khairwar and the custodial rape of one Ledha Bai, and writ petitions regarding the same have been admitted in the High Court and notices issued to senior officers including Shri Kalluri. Amarnath Pandey and Indradev Nag, Secretary Bauxite Khadan Shramik Sangh were themselves victims of attempted encounters, in respect of which also, a writ petition is pending in the Bilaspur High Court.

The meeting condemned the acts of the police and administration in entertaining such patently false cases with ulterior motive.

2. Various concerned persons reported on the efforts of the villagers around Lohandiguda, district Bastar to record their objections and demands in respect of the proposed Tata Steel Plant. The meeting resolved that the mandatory provision of the PESA Act that a genuine, free and fair consultation with the Gram Sabha is a prerequisite for implementation of any project, particularly involving land acquisition, must be strictly implemented. The manner in which Gram Sabhas have been held, and objections summarily dealt with by the district administration in respect of the Tata and Essar plants does not at all comply with such requirements.

The meeting reiterated the PUCL's longstanding demand that all efforts should be made by the district administration to ensure that the adivasis presently lodged in camps, taking refuge in jungles or across the borders of the state, as a consequence of the govt. sponsored anti-insurgency programme "Salwa Judum", be rehabilitated back in their villages. Concern was expressed at the proposal to convert camps into permanent revenue villages which would result in irreparable loss of land rights (promised under the recently enacted Forest Bill) of thousands of adivasis possibly to predatory mining companies. The PUCL reiterates its condemnation of violence by Maoists against adivasi villagers participating in Salwa Judum and appeals that they should facilitate rehabilitation. It also reiterates its demand to disband the "Salwa Judum" and register crimes in respect of all allegations of murder, rapes, arson and loot committed by the Salwa Judum, police and paramilitary in the past two years.

3. The meeting strongly condemned the police firing of 28th July in Mudigonda, district Khammam, Andhra Pradesh killing 8 villagers who were agitating for land rights and pattas under the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

It also condemned the recent arrest and manhandling of Sushri Medha Patkar and 200 non-rehabilitated dam oustees at Badwani by the Madhya Pradesh police on 26 th July when they were squatting on government land in protest.

The meeting registered its protest at the arrest of activist Saroj Mohanty of the Prakritik Suraksha Sampada Parishad, Kashipur, which was spearheading an agitation of local adivasis against the Bauxite giant Utkal Alumina Limited, in a false and fabricated case of dacoity.

From these cases as also the cases in Chhattisgarh, it appears that the State and Central Governments are hell bent upon suppressing all kinds of democratic dissent particularly in the adivasi areas where land is being acquired for companies and projects.

4. It was resolved that the PUCL would issue a call to all democratic and left political parties, mass organizations, NGOs, progressive intellectuals to join in a joint dharna on 14th August 2007 at Raipur on the following issues:

a) Reiteration of our longstanding demand for the repeal of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh JanSuraksha Adhiniyam, 2005; and the release of our General Secretary Dr Binayak Sen and all other citizens of Chhattisgarh incarcerated under the same.

b) Withdrawal of all false and motivated cases lodged in respect of social activists Subhash Mohapatra, Himanshu Kumar, Amarnath Pandey, DP Yadav, and others.

c) Genuine, free, fair and democratic consultation with all groups of persons (and their representatives) being affected/ displaced by proposed projects, companies, SEZs and SIZs in the state.

The PUCL post-bearers also reported on the developments in the case of Dr Binayak Sen. Preparations are on to move a bail petition in the Supreme Court. Also, as the period of 90 days after the filing of the FIR (6 th May 2007) comes to a close, the charge sheet is likely to be filed. Finally the meeting was closed thanking all present for their participation despite all attempts of intimidation and harassment, and the vicious campaign of the State Government to malign the PUCL as "Naxalite supporter".

(Sudha Bharadwaj, Executive member) (Rashmi DwivediVice-president) (Rajendra Sail, Presiden)t

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014