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PUCL, July 2007

Defend democracy day in Chhattisgarh

PUCL observes 14th August 2007 As defend democracy day at Raipur, Chhattisgarh, 17th August, 2007:

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)- Chhattisgarh observed 14th August, 2007 as the Defend Democracy Day at Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh. About 350 persons sat on a peaceful Dharna from 12 noon till 6:30 pm at Budha Talab, Raipur, singing songs, shouting slogans, and sharing incidents of growing State Repression in various parts of the State, especially targeting the rights-based groups and social movements for justice and democracy.

The 12-Hours Vigil from 12 Noon to 12 Midnight ended with a candle-light demonstration in the heart of the city at Jaistambh Chawk, in which about 55 persons participated representing about 14 people’s organizations and political parties. The protestors displayed banners and posters, and distributed leaflets demanding the repeal of The Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005, and unconditional release of Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh-PUCL, who has been illegally detained under the draconian laws (including UAPA 2004) since May 14, 2007. Hundreds of citizens passing by interacted with the protestors and many of them expressed sympathies and support for the PUCL demands. Other demands included:

• Judicial Enquiry into fake encounters, fake surrenders in Chhattisgarh implementation of the guidelines provided by the NHRC in this regard, and action against erring police officials;

• Withdrawal of all false and motivated cases lodged in respect of social activists Subhash Mohapatra, Himanshu Kumar, Amarnath Pandey, DP Yadav, and others arrested under the draconian laws;

• 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.

During the Dharna, speakers after speakers expressed concern at the growing state repression in a State committing crime against its own citizens, and called for unity of all democratic and left political parties, mass organizations, NGOs, progressive intellectuals, enlightened Citizens to Defend Democracy, Fight for Freedom & Resist Repressive Laws in Chhattisgarh. Special mention was made about the State Government’s action in curbing the activities of Doctors Beyond Boundaries (Noble Prize Winners & recognized for their unique contributions in the conflict situations) in Dantewara district, where about 70,000 tribals have been forced to leave their villages and live in Relief Camps due to violence unleashed by the Salwa-Judum, a government sponsored campaign against CPI-Maoists. Concern was also expressed at the State Government’s proposal to ban NGOs from operating in the areas actively controlled by CPI-Maoists. Strategies for action were suggested for mobilizing public opinion against such dictatorial acts of the Government, on the basis of which an Agenda for Defending Democracy would be prepared by the CG-PUCL.

Prominent among those who addressed the Dharna were: Kavita Shrivastava (National Secretary, PUCL), Suresh Khare (Bihar PUCL), Dr. Ilina Sen and Adv Sudha Bhardwaj (CG-PUCL), Harprasad Agrawal (Sarvodaya), Com Tejram Sahu & Com Saura Yadav (CPI-ML), Com. Janak Lal Thakur (President, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha), , Basant Sahu & Lakahn Sahu (CMM), Com Bharat Bhooshan Pandey (TUCI), Shashi Sail (National Alliance of Women), Harshlata Kanwar (Chhattisgarh Mahila Jagriti Sangathan), and Rajendra Sail, President, CG-PUCL. Ms. Kumud Nandgave of Chhattisgarh Bal Sharamik Sangathan steered the programme, while child labourers sang freedom songs and staged a play. People’s Poet, Kala Das Dahariya and his team also sang revolutionary songs from time to time.

Other organizations and individuals who prominently participated in the 12-hours vigil included the Com. O P Singh of Communist Party of India, Jacob of Richariya Campaign, Jan Swasthya Sewa, National Alliance of Women (NAWO), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Sabla Dal (Domestic Worker’s Union), Mukti-Niketan (Pithora), Nagrik Sadbhawna Manch (Mahasamund), Ratneshwar Nath of Ekta Parishad (Kanker), Adv Gautam Bandopadhya of Nadi Ghati Morcha, Surendra Solomon of Chhattisgarh Vikas Party, Free- lance journalists Prafulla Jha and Baba Maya Ram.

It has been decided to carry out concerted campaign and protest demonstrations in each and every district headquarter of Chhattisgarh in the coming months.

Rajendra K Sail, President Mobile: 098268-04519

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