Skip to main content

Protest against Kanhar Dam in UP: Arrest of activists is illegal, meant to impose rulers' development agenda on people

Statement by National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) on the arrest of Roma and Sokalo Gond, arrested in UP for protesting against the land acquisition bill:
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has showcased its commitment to anti-people policies and disrespect to peaceful and democratic expression of poor and marginalised people once again.
Early morning of June 30, just hours before the big dharna and rally in support of the 100 day nationwide campaign for land rights and labour rights in Sonebhadra district of UP, Roma and Sokalo Gond, both office bearers of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), along with other activists were arrested and sent to Mirzapur jail. Though many activists were picked up, except both of them, everyone else was released later in the day.
They were not released because they exposed scam in tune of more than Rs 2,300 crore by people in the administration and those sitting at high echelons of power in the government. The scammers are being protected by the police and the administration.
Activists and whistleblowers who have attempted to expose these scams, point out police excesses and protest against illegal land acquisition are being termed as ‘miscreants’ and continuously harassed by the UP government.
One may recall, on the morning of April 14 (Ambedkar Jayanti), the UP police fired indiscriminately on several hundred Dalits and Adivasis, including large numbers of women and children. They were peacefully protesting against illegal land acquisition for the Kanhar Dam project. Several women were injured in the firing.
Following this, false cases were filed against countless unnamed persons. Four days later, on April 18, there was a second round of police firing in which once again several people were seriously injured and some of the key activists of the movement arrested. Those arrested are yet to be released.
These incidents cannot be seen in isolation but should be looked in the context of earlier incidents of police firing on peaceful protesters, which has continued now through severe forms of harassment, illegal arrests and false charges.
These charges are arbitrary and politically motivated, aimed at crushing the peaceful and democratic struggle against the illegal acquisition of land for the Kanhar Dam project. The Government of Uttar Pradesh has used the police to illegally stop democratic expression against the persistence of land acquisition in scheduled areas.
Despite there being court orders, including from the National Green Tribunal, the state government has pursued and targeted activists who are protesting its illegal actions at Kanhar.
At the national level AIUFWP, being part of the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, has been opposing the amendments to the land acquisition proposed by the BJP government. Roma and Sokalo are strong women leaders who have spearheaded many struggles since more than a decade against the land mafia and the nexus between the forest department and the corporates.
Addressing a press meeting, CPI-M politbureau member Hannan Mollah explained the sequence of events where the police forcibly entered the room where women were sleeping, kept the women police outside the door and harassed women activists even when they repeatedly objected to the use of force against them. These attacks, he said, are also an attack on the leadership of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan which has been protesting against forcible land acquisition at the national level.
Ashok Choudhary [AIUFWP] said that while the nature of arrest shows the disrespecting attitudes of the police against women, it is also the state government which has hastened the process of acquisition, resorting to the use of force, due to the pressures created by Hindalco which needs water from the Kanhar dam for its power projects in Singrauli.
The Kanhar dam is neither for irrigation nor serving any other needs of the local people. “These pressure tactics show that the administration has not taken well the fact that adivasi women in the community are taking leader the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal have asked for stopping the process,” he added.
Veteran activist Medha Patkar said that this indiscriminate use of force to restart the construction of dam, non implementation of the 2013 land acquisition act in UP and the prosecution of peaceful activists are a reflection of how the British treated dissent, and added that such things would amount to much more losses in the electoral process for Mulayam Singh and the Samajwadi Party.
The ‘third and fourth front’ thus today need to explain their positions vis-à-vis the government’s not-so-veiled attempts to implement only corporate policies. The DM Sanjay Kumar has explained to the fact-finding team and other activists who met the administration regarding the arrests that ‘no new case’ has been registered against Roma after 2009.
On the inhuman treatment meted out to Dalit leaders in the past such as Gambhira Prasad and a trend that has been proven once again, she demanded that the state should be booked for violation of the Prevention of Atrocities Act.
Priya Pillai of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti added that the independent fact finding committee was harassed when it went to enquire of the sequence of events. The members were stopped from meeting people in hospitals and villages. The police officer responsible for the firing on 14th April, Kapil Yadav, made the arrests and the behaviour clearly pointed out to the aspect of ‘revenge’.
This suppression by force shows patterns in how the state is extremely intolerant of any form of dissent. Dr. Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti said that charges should be filed against the police officer for mistreatment of women and harassing peaceful protestors.
Anil Choudhary of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) said that the coal block re-allotments done by the new government has led to hurried construction at Kanhar dam site, in violation of all laws and guidelines. This is also because Hindalco has consumed the water sources and now it needs more water. This illegality and harassment will go on if the forcing of a ‘development agenda’ on poor and marginalised sections continues.
Bhumi Adhikar Andolan demands the stopping of harassment of activists and local people and asks the UP government to take recognition of massive irregularities in Kanhar dam region, police excesses and stop the illegal land acquisition process immediately. An enquiry into the wrongful arrests, false and fabricated cases, and wrongful police action should be made by the government.
It extended solidarity to the people of Kanhar who are facing the brunt for standing up for people’s rights, and the adoption of wrongful procedures and illegalities in the name of development.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”