Skip to main content

"False" charges may be levelled against Adivasi-Dalit rights leader: Top Dublin-based NGO

Counterview Desk
Front Line Defenders (FLD), a Dublin (Ireland)-based UN award winning advocacy group, which works with the specific aim of "protecting" human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has expressed the apprehension that cops may bring in "false charges" against Degree Prasad Chouhan, convenor, Adivasi Dalit Majdoor Kisan Sangharsh, which operates from Chhattisgarh.
A human rights defender and a law graduate in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh District, Chouhan has been involved in organizing Adivasi villagers to respond to the alleged unlawful dispossession of their land. Also serving as vice president of the Chhattisgarh chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), over the past 15 years Chouhan has advocated for justice for the human rights violations committed against Dalits and the Adivasi community, including illegal land grabbing and forced displacement of indigenous people by state agents, security forces and corporate business interests. He has also worked on extra judicial killings, illegal detention, torture and attacks on minorities.
According to FLD -- which promotes and strengthens international and regional measures to protect human rights defenders through support for the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders -- the stage has been set for levelling "false allegations" against Chouhan following the arrest of human rights defender Sudha Bharadwaj and four others on October 26.

Text of the FLD's appeal to Indian authorities:

Following the arrest of human rights defender Sudha Bharadwaj and four others on October 26, 2018, there is an imminent threat of false charges being brought against Dalit activist and human rights defender, Degree Prasad Chouhan.
The police have already implicated the defender by name in a fake letter produced by them on August 31, 2018, which they claim was written by advocate Sudha Bharadwaj.
There is a clear attempt by the police to smear the human rights defender as a Maoist militant and draw a false link between Degree Prasad Chouhan and the Bhima Koregaon violence which took place in January 2018.
At a press conference on August 31, 2018, the Maharashtra police read out a fake letter allegedly written by Sudha Baradhwaj. The letter purports inter alia that “Comrade Degree Prasad Chouhan, who was sent into the interiors by me, has returned on successfully completing the said operation. As promised, he has to be paid his reward now”. 
This is a clear attempt to smear and implicate the defender, paving the way for his possible arrest under the regressive Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Sudha Baradhwaj through her lawyer has refuted the claims of the Maharashtra Police and expressly stated that the allegations against Degree Prasad Chouhan are baseless.
Sudha Baradhwaj and four other activists have been in police custody under the UAPA since 26 October 2018, when a Pune Sessions Court denied bail to the activists and also refused to extend their house arrest. On 6 November 2018 they were sent to jail.
Degree Prasad Chouhan believes that he faces an imminent threat of being falsely implicated as a Maoist militant or of instigating in some way the Bhima Koregaon violence, which occurred on January 1, 2018 during the commemoration of the 200 year anniversary of a battle the Dalits had won against the Peshwas (upper caste rulers). 
The current spate of persecution of human rights defenders through surveillance, threats, arrests and judicial harassment, is an attempt to curb the growing movement for Dalit and Adivasi rights, which has over the years achieved some successes in their fight to preserve their land and rights.
Front Line Defenders expresses grave concern regarding the smear campaign and attempts to falsely imply Degree Prasad Chouhan is a Maoist militant or terrorist, as it strongly believes that they are directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in India to:
1. Immediately cease any harassment against Degree Prasad Chouhan, including attempts to smear his name through the media and to criminalise him.
2. Ensure that Degree Prasad Chouhan is protected within India and the Chhattisgarh state and permitted to continue his human rights work without hindrance or harassment.
3. Immediately and unconditionally release the five human rights defenders, including lawyer Sudha Baradhwaj, as their arrest is directly linked to their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights.
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Top Catholic group wants quota for Dalit Christians, foreign fund licenses revived

By Our Representative
Reiterating its long-pending demand to give "scheduled rights for Dalit Christians”, the All-India Catholic Union (AICU) has regretted that while converts to Sikhism and Buddhism from the former untouchable, or Dalit communities, have been included in the scheduled caste (SC) category, Christians from the identical communities have been “kept out.”