Orissa: PUCL Statement condemning arrest of Debaranjan Sarangi

March 20, 2016

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) condemns the arrest of Sri Debaranjan Sarangi, an active member of Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakyaa Sangathan (GASS), who was arrested by the plain‐clothed policemen in the morning hours on 18th March from the village Kucheipadar in Kashipur Block of Raygada district. PUCL learnt from the villagers of Kucheipadar that at the time of arrest the policemen had given them the impression that they were from Malkanagiri police station and Sri Sarangi would be taken to Malkanagiri. However, till 4 O’clock in the afternoon, neither the local villagers nor the legal counsel of Sri Sarangi nor members of his family had any idea of his whereabout. Subsequently, PUCL got to know from his lawyer Mr. Kanhei that he had been arrested on some cases dating back to the year 2005 relating to the movement against the setting up of Aluminium plant and Buxite mining in the area, and was produced in the Kashipur court and been remanded to judical custody at Rayagada.

It needs to be noted that Kucheipadar village had played a crucial role in the anti‐Buxite mining movement and Sri Sarangi was closely associated with the movement for many years supporting the community in their struggle against displacement. The movement had to suffer tremendous state repression. In the year 2000, three Adivasis were killed in police firing. During 2005‐2006, hundreds of people were picked up by police and put in jail on false cases of which people had no knowledge. Even today, people are being arrested for cases registered ten years ago.

Added to this is the unstated policy of the government of labeling every struggle of the Adivasis as ‘Maoists’ and then in the name of containing ‘Maoists menace’ indiscriminately arrest and kill innocent Adivasis. So it was in January 2011 the security forces had brutally killed 9 people in Basangamali, in Kashipur Block, which included five young Adivasi girls. Not surprisingly, the same policy is being pursued to suppress the anti‐mining struggle of Adivasis in Niyamgiri hills. Only a few days ago one Adivasi, Mando Kadraka, was killed by the security forces, and he was branded as a Maoist. In December 2015, the DVF (a special wing of the Odisha Police formed to tackle the Maoists) had killed three Adivasis in the Karlapat sanctuaty area (in the adjacent district of Kalahandi) and declared them as Maoists. What is common to all these areas is the rich Buxite deposits and the sinister design of the state to handover these resources to the corporates by silencing the voice of opposition. The arrest of Debaranjan is just an example of it.

PUCL demands that the government of Odisha withdraw all the old cases falsely foisted on local people and activsts and unconditionally release those who have been arrested.

Pramodini Pradhan
Convenor, PUCL‐Odisha