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Senior activist Ajay Kumar's arrest 'imminent' in same vein as Rona Wilson, Stan Swamy

Counterview Desk 
The civil rights coalition, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), even as condemning the "intensifying harassment" of activist, writer, lawyer and intellectual Ajay Kumar and is family by India's investigative agencies, has said that "the arrest of Ajay Kumar under fabricated charges is imminent", and may happen in the "similar vein" to that of his former associates like Prof GN Saibaba, activist Rona Wilson, late Father Stan Swamy, trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj, others.
In a statement, CASR said, "Possibly Ajay Kumar's role as an anti-displacement activist and an opponent to the Indian state’s undeclared war on the Adivasi peasant people of central India to further corporate loot of land and resources that has brought him the ire of the state."

Text:

The Campaign against State Repression (CASR) unequivocally condemns the repeated and intensifying cruel harassment of Ajay Kumar and his family by the National Investigation Agency and other institutions of state repression. For the last half year the Indian state has undertaken a concentrated campaign to intimidate Ajay Kumar with members of the NIA, Central Intelligence Bureau and intelligence agency of the state of Haryana repeatedly harassing his relatives, friends and former neighbours regarding his whereabouts, warning them against any interaction with him and even supposedly letting slip that a raid of his residence is likely. It is evident from all this that the arrest of Ajay Kumar under fabricated charges is imminent, in similar vein to that of his former associates like Prof. G.N. Saibaba, activist Rona Wilson, the late Father Stan Swamy, trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj, lawyer Surendra Gadling, activist Arun Ferreira among others.
An activist, writer, lawyer and intellectual, Ajay Kumar has dedicated near three decades to the struggles of toiling masses for liberation from oppression and exploitation. Since his days as a student in Kurukshetra university, he has been active in various mass and democratic struggles be they the struggle against the illegal termination of canteen workers in Kurukshetra University or the struggle against the demolition of working-class neighbourhood of Gandhi Nagar, Kurukshetra. He participated in the peasant movement in Kandela, Haryana, was active in opposing the arrest of peasant leader Ghashi Ram and took lead in fact-finding missions on atrocities against Dalits in Haryana. In Chandigarh, he was active in the movement against evictions of slum dwellers as well as the movements against the amendments to Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act and Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act in 2016. He was active in the organizing of various programs, among others, the Mumbai Resistance programme in 2004 to oppose imperialist penetration into people’s movements via the World Social Forum. Apart from this, Ajay has aided in the capacity-building of activists from the anti-displacement movements against Electro Steel Company in Santhal Pargana (Jharkhand), Grabanda Bera electricity project in Gumla (Jharkhand) and South Korean giant POSCO in Jagatsinghpur (Odisha).
It is possibly Ajay Kumar's role as an anti-displacement activist and an opponent to the Indian state’s undeclared war on the Adivasi peasant people of central India to further corporate loot of land and resources that has brought him the ire of the State. Ajay was actively involved in the Forum against the War on People to oppose the attack by state forces and corporate-sponsored militia, Salwa Judum, on the Adivasi peasants of central India under Operation Green Hunt. He was also founding member of Vistapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA), a conglomeration of more than 50 organisations from across the country seeking to challenge the forcible displacement of peasants particularly Adivasis, for the furtherance of corporate loot and land grab. VVJVA works against the forceful displacement of peasantry, particularly Adivasis for building big dams, industrial projects, mines, Special Economic Zones, highways, National Parks, Smart City projects etc. Ajay Kumar worked alongside the likes of Dr. B.D. Sharma (retired IAS officer), K.N. Pandit (trade union leader), Dr. B.P. Kesari, Father Stan Swamy, Sudha Bhardwaj, Dr. G.N. Saibaba and J. Madhuri in the formation of this forum in 2007. From 2007 to 2016, Ajay was the All-India Convenor of VVJVA and later a member of its All India Steering Committee. He was also a member of the All-India Committee of the Forum Against Imperialist Globalisation.
As a lawyer and activist, Ajay was active in the campaign against the death penalty awarded to cultural activist Jiten Marandi and opposition to capital punishment in general. As a member of the Indian Association of Peoples Lawyers (IAPL), he struggled for the release of political prisoners including those incarcerated in the Bhima Koregaon case. He helped organise a program against the use of pellet guns in Kashmir and participated in a fact-finding mission in Kashmir in May 2018 alongside Surendra Gadling, Arun Ferreira, and others. When article 370 was revoked, he aided in organizing protests in several prominent universities and was active in protesting against the draconian CAA-NRC-NPR. He was involved in the famous Kisan Andolan and in organising the movement against the caste atrocities committed in Panchkula in the state of Haryana.
Activist, writer, lawyer, intellectual, Ajay Kumar has dedicated three decades to struggle for  liberation of the oppressed
Besides all the above, Ajay has written widely on issues concerning the toiling masses. Seminal articles on agrarian production relations in Haryana and socio-historical overview of Khap Panchayats were presented in the University of Hyderabad and Indian Institute for Advanced Studies in Shimla respectively, as well as various books, including titled Vistapan aur Janandolan. He also co-edited 8 volumes of the news bulletin Lalkar and was a regular contributor to the Jan Pratirodh magazine writing on a host of issues including the political economy of the Jat reservation demand, socio-economic impact of technological development, militarization of central India, the Lalgarh movement, state violence, Haryana's new education policy and social boycotts among others.
Due to his activism and participation in people’s movements, Ajay seems to be next in line for the state for an impending arrest, just like his fellow VVJVA founding members Mahesh Raut and the late Fr. Stan Swamy. Another one of his peers, Prof. G.N. Saibaba, with him Ajay took part in the campaign against Operation Green Hunt has remained behind bars for nearly a decade now. His fellow IAPL lawyers Sudha Bharadwaj and Surendra Gadling met with similar predicaments too. He was already targeted with the Israeli-made Pegasus surveillance software, which was confirmed in October 2019 by John Scott Railton, a senior researcher at the Canadian organization Citizens Lab. The next month, WhatsApp too confirmed that this surveillance software was installed on his phone illegally in May 2018. His close association with other incarcerated activists as mentioned above already made him a person of interest in the false case against Prof. G.N. Saibaba, with his name mentioned in the lower courts. Those arrested in the fabricated Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case were also interrogated about Ajay Kumar.
All of this has only intensified since May 2023, when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) unleashed itself on various political activists all over the country, particularly targeting the houses of various VVJVA members, including its All-India Coordinator Damodar Turi, in Jharkhand. Turi has been experiencing consistent harassment from the NIA since and has been questioned about Ajay Kumar too. On 14th July 2023, the NIA visited Ajay’s residence too, though he had only shifted from there to a new residence just a few days prior. His neighbours were questioned regarding his whereabouts and the NIA even made its way to his hometown Ganaur in Sonipat district, Haryana to quiz his relatives regarding his whereabouts. On 19th August 2023, a person of the Intelligence Bureau informed a senior journalist to avoid any interactions with Ajay Kumar and his family, informing the journalist that the NIA is searching for him to arrest him, and that Ajay’s new residence may be raided soon. In September 2023, the Intelligence Bureau contacted Ajay’s friend in Kurukshetra district to know of his whereabouts again. There has been a continuous spate of harassment and threats that the NIA has been employing against Ajay Kumar and it is apparent that his activism has made him out to be a target of the state as it is covertly building a case against him while harassing his family and friends.
CASR strongly condemns the targeting of Ajay Kumar by state intelligence agencies for his unflinching activism and commitment to the cause of the oppressed and exploited!
CASR demands an immediate end to the withchunt by the state agencies against Ajay Kumar and all such political activists working on people’s issues!
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*AIRSO, AISA, AISF, APCR, BASF, BSM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, bsCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, Forum Against Repression Telangana, Fraternity, IAPL, Innocence Network, Karnataka Janashakti, Progressive Lawyers Association, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, Nishant Natya Manch, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad, Smajwadi Lok Manch, Bahujan Samjavadi Manch, SFI, United Against Hate, United Peace Alliance, WSS, Y4S

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