Monday, May 09, 2016

Top Jharkhand tribal activist "offloaded" at Delhi airport, was to attend workshop on environment, politics in UK

Gladson Dungdung
By Our Representative
In a second controversial incident of “offloading” at the Delhi International Airport, young tribal human rights defender, Gladson Dungdung, who happens to be general secretary, Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM), Ranchi, was on Monday morning not allowed to board the Air India Delhi-London Flight AI 115.
One of the most activist tribal human rights activists in his region, Dungdung was going to London to attend the Workshop on Environmental History and Politics of South Asia, which was to be held in the University of Sussex, UK on May 10.
The officials at the airport, according to Dungdung, told him that since his passport had been impounded in 2013, hence they would need to send it to the regional passport office, Ranchi, for verification, before being allowed to fly abroad.
However, Dungdung suspected the reason lay elsewhere, He said, “The fact is that my passport was impounded in 2013 and returned to me after proper verification in 2014.” Thereafter, he attended a couple of international conferences in Denmark and London in 2014 and 2015 subsequently, “but there was no issue at all.”
“Therefore”, he pointed out, “I am sure, this is a clear impact of my book ‘Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India’.”
"Offloaded" remark on Dungdung's ticket
The book, it is well known, is based on Dungdung’s travel to the so-called Red Corridor of India, offering a plethora of evidence to prove that the state-sponsored effort to curb Naxalism in Jharkhand is actually a war against the Adivasis to snatch their resources – lands, forests, water, hills and minerals — in one of the densest forests of India, rich in its biodiversity with an extraordinary variety of wildlife.
In a Facebook post, Dungdung said, “The centre of the war is mineral resources, which I am able to establish through my mission to Saranda forest”, adding, “While defaulters of millions of rupees like Vijay Mallya cannot be offloaded, activists like me are bound to be offloaded.”
“However, my fight for the adivasis' ownership rights over the Natural resources, Adivasi identity, human rights, ecology, and against unjust development processes will continue till they take away my right to life forever… Jai Adivasi”, he concluded.
Priya Pillai
In January 2015, senior Greenpeace India campaigner Priya Pillai was “offloaded” at Delhi airport from a flight to London where she was scheduled to make a presentation before British MPs regarding alleged human rights violation in the Mahan region of Madhya Pradesh, where coalmining is rampant.
Pillai was told by the immigration officer that he couldn’t fly out of the country, even though she had a valid six-month visa. When she sought the reason, a senior officer at the airport told her that she was on a database issued by the Government of India of individuals who can’t fly out of the country.
Later, in March 2015, the Delhi High Court ordered to expunge the “offload”remark from the passport of Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, and remove her name from a database and allow her to travel abroad.
Stating that the right of free speech and expression “necessarily includes the right to criticise and dissent”, Justice Rajiv Shakdher, in a 39-page order, said: “Criticism, by an individual, may not be palatable; even so, it cannot be muzzled."
He added, "Many civil right activists believe that they have the right, as citizens, to bring to the notice of the state the incongruity in the developmental policies of the state. The state may not accept the views of the civil right activists, but that by itself, cannot be a good enough reason to do away with dissent.”
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Click HERE to download Dungdung’s book “Mission Saranda”

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