Orissa – RDF Statement on the arrest of Dandapani Mohanty

February 9, 2013

PRESS STATEMENT from REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRATIC FRONT (RDF)

8.2.2013

Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) strongly condemns the arrest of prominent people’s activist Dandapani Mohanty by the Odisha Police today at 3.10pm from his home at Shantinagar in Berhampur, falsely implicating him of being involved in Maoist activities. He was in the kitchen of his home about to take his lunch when he heard someone calling from outside his house. When he went out to answer the call at the door, a team of policemen in plains-clothes from Gajapati and Ganjam districts dragged him out and abducted him. The police did not even allow him the time or the opportunity to inform his wife who was inside the house at that time, so that for a long time she was left clueless about his sudden disappearance. Nor was he allowed to put on his spectacles or wear his slippers. Later, he was produced in a court in R Udaygiri.

In a conspiratorial manner the Odisha police have slapped a total of 15 different fabricated cases against Dandapani Mohanty under several sections of the IPC and the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). There were six non-bailable warrants against him. He is falsely named a conspirator in the blasting of a police patrolling vehicle at Andharighat under Adaba police station, accused of setting ablaze four OSRTC buses at Raipanka, blasting of a forest beat house at Paniganda and burning of Reliance and BSNL mobile towers at Raipanka in the year 2009. He is also implicated in a case related to a police-Maoist encounter at Gopinathpur on 4 November 2010, torching of BSNL and Airtel towers at Birikote in March 2010, killing of Dinabandhu Mantri at Katama in May 2010, distribution of Maoist literature and guns at Sapalaguda in Gajapati district in October 2010, collecting funds and organizing shelter for the Maoists, and so on.

Dandapani Mohanty is a well-known people’s activist of Odisha who have been a strong voice of opposition against the anti-people policies of the governments in Odisha as well as at the centre. As the convener of the Jan Adhikar Manch, he has been at the forefront of the democratic movement in Odisha raising his voice against continued state repression on the people’s movements, including the struggles in Narayanpatna, Niyamgiri, Jagatsinghpur, Koraput and so on. He has been untiringly working among the adivasi bamboo workers in southern Odisha for the last four decades, fighting for higher wages, better working conditions, against their exploitation by contractors and forest officials, etc.

Dandapani Mohanty along with Prof. R S Rao and Prof. G Haragopal was one of the interlocutors in the talks between the Odisha government and the Maoists related to the release of two Italian tourists last year. He also mediated along with Dr. B D Sharma when Vineel Krishna, the collector of Malkangiri, was in the custody of the Maoists in 2011. He has been vocally highlighting the failure of the Odisha government in fulfilling the commitments made during the negotiations – including the immediate release of over six hundred adivasis incarcerated in various jails of Odisha for allegedly being Maoists, stopping of police repression on people’s movements, recognition of the land rights of the adivasis and the landless, etc.

Protesting against the fascist police repression on the people and people’s organizations of Odisha, Dandapani Mohanty stated in an
appeal in February last year, “Odisha police has treated the democratic organization and democratic people as terrorists and are
trying to suppress the democratic voices.” The fascist act of arresting him by the Odisha police as a Maoist once again vindicates
what he stated a year ago. Noting that the cases against Dandapani Mohanty, Nachika Linga and three others under UAPA Act are fabricated, he asked “all the democratic-minded people in country to raise their voices against state violence and to demand that the government must withdraw the fabricated cases.”

Rather than stopping this policy of oppression, the government has only scaled up its efforts to frame political activists and democrats in Odisha under trumped-up charges. Indeed, Dandapani Mohanty has been targeted in a vindictive manner by the Indian state in order to silence a strong voice of dissent and resistance. As a part of this concerted effort, Sangram Mohanty, the son of Dandapani Mohanty was also arrested a few months back for allegedly aiding the Maoists. Dandapany Mohanty is EC member of RDF.

RDF demands that the Odisha government release Dandapani Mohanty without any delay and withdraw the false cases against it. We also appeal to the democratic and pro-people organizations and individuals to fight for the unconditional release of Dandapani Mohanty.

Varavara Rao
President, RDF

Rajkishore
General Secretary, RDF