Uttar Pradesh – Statements against arrest of activists

July 1, 2015

Statement by AIPF

The AIPF condemns the arrest today of AIPF Campaign Committee Member Roma Malik and AIYUWP leader Sokalo Gond in Sonbhadra. The arrest took place this morning, the same day that a rally of the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) was planned in Sonbhadra. The rally was held to culminate the country-wide 100-day Land Rights Labour Rights campaign by the AIPF and raise the question of undeclared Emergency and the climate of fear and repression in India and in Uttar Pradesh.

The police also detained others including a District Committee member of the CPI(ML) Bijan and NTUI leader Avijit, but released them in the evening.

In spite of the efforts of the administration and police to disrupt and terrorise the participants in the rally, the rally took place.

Thousands gathered and assembled on the street itself and held the ‘sabha’ without a mike, with defiance and determination.

The sabha was addressed by Sandeep Pandey of Socialist Party India, Ashok Choudhury, All India General Secretary of the AIUFWP, CPI(ML) Central Committee member and AIPF Campaign Committee member Mohd. Salim, AIUFWP leaders Mata Dayal and Sanjay Kumar from Bundelkhand, All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) leaders Jeera Bharti, Om Prakash Singh and Bhakt Prakash Srivastava, and activists Shankar Kol, Vijay Kol and Shahjehan. The meeting was conducted by CPI(ML) Central Committee member Sudhakar Yadav.

The arrests of Roma Malik and Sokalo Gond is the latest in a series of repressive actions by the Sonbhadra district administration to crack down on activists resisting the grab of forest land and for rights and dignity of the adivasis and the rural poor. The enthusiastic participation in the rally sent a message that the people’s struggles would not yield to terror tactics by the Government.

The AIPF demands the release of Roma Malik and Sokalo Gond, and an end to the harassment of activists in the region.

Kavita Krishnan
Kiran Shaheen
ND Pancholi
for AIPF Secretariat

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WSS Letter to Chief Minister

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, a national platform for women’s rights and democratic freedoms, protests the illegal and unjustified action of the district administration of Sonbhadra in arresting Roma, Sokalo Gond and Avijit, leaders of the All Indian Union of Forest Working People from the AIUFWP office in Robertsgunj this morning.

The arrests were made without any warrant or notice and the activists have not been taken to the police station or produced before a magistrate. Going by the earlier actions of the Sonbhadraa police and their disgraceful record of violence and brutality against Adivasiss and Dalits, we have reason to fear for the safety of the arrested activists.

The arrests are clearly a ploy to subvert the AIUFP rally to protest against violation of the rights of Adivasi and Dalit communtiies through illegal and forcible land acquisition in Uttar Pradesh. The rally is an expression of democratic and non-violent protest which is a fundamental Constitutional right of all citizens of the country.

WSS calls for the immediate release of arrested activists and demands a fair hearing for their grievances and demands. Democratic protests cannot be crushed through such means – this is a message that has been repeatedly conveyed to the district administration by AIUFWP activists and peoples’ movements in the past, and has been upheld by the highest courts in the country.

Perhaps the district administration needs to be reminded that their duty as public servants is to maintain peace and protect the Constitution – not perpetrate violence and crush democratic protests through the use of violence. Such actions cannot be condoned – you surely remember that a previous attempt at illegal and unjustified arrests of peaceful protestors was halted through your direct intervention and led to the transfers of senior officials.

We hope you will not allow the district administration to repeat such ugly histories – please direct them to release the arrested activists immediately and allow the rally to proceed peacefully as planned.

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Press Release by the National Alliance of People’s Movements
Arrest of Adv. Roma and Sokalo Gond is a condemnable attempt to crush democratic struggles

Immediately release the activists and accept the demands of struggling people of Sonbhadra, UP

New Delhi: 30th June, 2015: National Alliance of People’s Movements expresses its outrage at the arrest of senior activist and advocate, Roma Malik, Sokalo Gond, and other women activists of the All Indian Union of Forest Working People from the organization’s office in Robertsgunj today morning by the police. We are shocked and amazed at the attempts by the UP administration to repeatedly arrest activists and the struggling people for asserting their constitutional rights and protecting the environment.

While the memory of ruthless repression where the police open fired at the peaceful protesters at Kanhar Dam on Ambedkar Jayanti is still fresh, this attempt to crush the voice of dissent comes in the wake of the planned people’s rally against land acquisition and loot of natural resources that was to take place tomorrow in Robertsgunj is unjustifiable and unacceptable. The right to peaceful protest is part of the fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India and no government can take away or infringe upon this sacred right. It needs to be noted that in numerous instances in the past the higher courts have repeatedly come down on the authorities for trying to muzzle protests through fabricated cases and arrests.

We also wish to remind the UP government that some of met the CM at the CM House in the last week of April, in the wake of the brutal police firings at adivasis and dalits in the Kanhar dam-affected area. The Order of the NGT as well clearly establishes the illegality in the entire process. The CM had assured us that he take note of all the demands in our memorandum and ensure that the conflict is resolved through dialogue with the people and Gram Sabhas. Is this how the Government seeks to resolve conflict? Are these arrests really necessary and lawful? Such actions will only intensify the conflict and lead to further tensions in the area.

We hope that the UP Government will take serious note of the national discontent against the arrest of senior activists of the AIUFWP and direct the district administration to drop all chargers and release the arrested activists and villagers. We convey our deep disdain for the approach of the UP government to openly harass and target activists who are engaged with the people’s issues on the ground and are raising important questions of land, natural resources and equality and democracy. We wish to remind the government and the administration that peaceful and democratic struggle of the adivasi and dalit communities, led by the women of Sonbhadra, is their constitutional right and we stand in full solidarity with them.

It would be disgraceful if administration tries to resort to such means to silence democratic voices. The rally, which was announced many days ago and is a matter of public knowledge cannot and should not be stopped by such means, we urge. National Alliance of People’s Movements demands immediate release of Adv. Roma and Sokalo Gond. We also urge the government to redress the grievances of the struggling people and accept their demands urgently.

Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad –Samajwadi Janparishad, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti &Meera – Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, MP; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah &Ramakrishnan Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Arundhati Dhuru & Richa Singh –Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, NAPM, UP;Sudhir Vombatkere, Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union &Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Sujato Bhadra, NAPM West Bengal; B S Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini &Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar, Kanika and Shabnam Shaikh– NAPM, Delhi