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Young activist Sanjay Sahni's arrest in Bihar: Cops lathi charge NREGA workers protesting against "false" FIRs

Sanjay Sahni leading NREGA workers' march, Muzaffarnagar
By Our Representative
The arrest of Sanjay Sahni, a young social worker who has established a Muzaffarnagar-wide movement in Bihar in order to empower people to access public services under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), public distribution system (PDS) and pension, is all set to snowball into a major controversy.
While Sanhi was arrested on August 21, the police lathi charged members of the Samaj Sangharsh Morcha (SPSS), a civil rights organization he has founded, for protesting against the police action outside the Muzaffarnagar district’s deputy development commissioner’s office.
In the melee, say eye-witnesses, Sudha Devi, an activist attached with the SPSS, was badly injured on the head, and other members who were hit include Indu Devi, Yoshoda Devi, Gulab Devi and Girija Devi.
Sahni, 36 leads SPSS, which is popularly known as NREGA Watch. A collective of about 10,000 rural workers of Muzaffarpur who take up NREGA work for their livelihood, its office bearers say, the organization has been facing “continuous harassment” at the hands of the local administration because of their fight against corruption in government programmes.
An electrician in Janakpuri in Delhi and educated up to class seven, activists say, Sahni’s is a “a remarkable and rare story” of a person who “overcame a series of hurdles to fight corruption, mobilize -violent, non-partisan means.”
“The image of him firing workers and establish a Muzaffarpur-wide movement to empower people to access public services using non up a laptop in his mud-and-brick one-room hut by a cook-stove is both enduring and emblematic of a movement that has embraced technology like few others”, a civil society source insists.
Muzaffarnagar's NREGA workers
“The harassment has taken the form of threats, violence and false FIRs against members of the NREGA Watch”, the organization insists in a statement following the arrest of Sahni and the lathi charge on its protesting workers.
So, far, seven FIRs, termed “false” by NREGA Watch, have been lodged against various members of the SPSS. The charges include holding government officials captive, “maar-pitai” (beating), confiscating government documents, creating obstacles in routine government work, and so on.
In February 2017 FIR was lodged against Sahni, under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “The most ludicrous FIR is the one filed on March 31, 2017 in which Sanjay Sahni has been accused of attempting to murder Shambhunath Singh, Panchayat Rozgar Sewak of Ratnauli Gram Panchayat in Kurhani block. Sanjay Sahni was actually in Ranchi that day”, says NREGA Watch.
According to NREGA Watch, an independent team has already conducted a fact-finding mission about the FIRs, presenting “incontrovertible evidence of the false nature of March 31 FIR”, adding, “The others stand on very weak ground, with the incongruent testimonies of a small set of government officials weighed against consistent accounts of a large number of SPSS workers and other local actors.”
Claims NREGA Watch, “The local bureaucracy routinely employs FIRs as a strategic tool to quash and silence people’s voices and struggles for justice and is unabashed about being involved in such acts. The fact finding report was handed in person to the DGP, Bihar, in Patna in July 2017 who had issued a written directive to the DIG Muzaffarpur to follow up.”

Comments

Sagar Rabari said…
As Nitish Kumar shifted his loyalty, all means of suppression, cow vigilantism etc. is getting momentum. This development are very serious for Bihar and the country.

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