Jharkhand’s civil society condemns recent raids on Stan Swamy and other human rights activists

Stan Swamy

We, the undersigned, are shocked by the serial raids across the country on the homes of activists and public intellectuals who are critical of the government and the ruling party at the Centre. The arrests of prominent activists and intellectuals Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and others are nothing but an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalised and give voice to the voiceless.

The raid on the residential premises of Stan Swamy, a well-known activist of Jharkhand, was highly objectionable. Stan works for the rights of Adivasis and other underprivileged groups in the state. Among other issues, he works on displacement, corporate loot of resources, the condition of undertrials and PESA. Stan has been a vocal critic of the government’s attempts to amend land laws and the land acquisition act in Jharkhand, and a strong advocate of the Forest Rights Act, PESA and related laws. We know Stan as an exceptionally gentle, honest and public-spirited person. We have the highest regard for him and his work.

The Bagaicha campus was raided by the Maharashtra and Jharkhand police around 6 am on 28 August 2018. The police confiscated Stan’s mobile, laptop, some audio cassettes, some CDs, and a recent press release on the pathalgadi movement by Women against Sexual violence and state repression (WSS). Stan was not told about the details of the charges against him. The police video-recorded the entire event.

This raid comes just a few weeks after Stan and 19 other persons including activists, journalists and intellectuals were booked on charges of sedition by the Jharkhand government. The police have cited their facebook posts as evidence of their role in the pathalgadi movement in Khunti. Among other sections, they have been booked under 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2015.

The central government and media houses close to the BJP are now claiming that the human rights activists were part of a Maoist conspiracy related to the Bhima-Koregaon incident. This concocted story seems to be part of a larger propaganda, based on terms like “urban naxals”, aimed at stifling any criticism of the government.

The raids and arrests are part of the government’s growing attempts to stifle dissent and intimidate those who are fighting for justice. This is also an attempt by the BJP to invent a false enemy and engage in scaremongering in order to polarise the 2019 elections in its favour.

We demand immediate release of the arrested individuals and dropping of all false charges against them, as these arrests and raids are politically motivated and unjustified.

Abhay Xaxa

Adivasi Women’s Network

Afzal Anees, United Milli Forum

Akash Ranjan, Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand

Akshat, Concerned citizen

Amrita Anand, a concerned active citizen

Ankita Aggarwal, Research scholar

Anumeha, Journalist

Asharfi Nand Prasad, Convenor, Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand

Ashok Verma, Jharkhand Loktantrik Manch

Asim Sarkar, All India People science Network

Aysha, Concerned citizen

B B Choudhary, Samajwadi Jan Parishad

Babita, Concerned citizen

Bace Buriuli

Balram, Social activist

Basant Hetamsaria, National Alliance of People’s Movements

Binod Kumar, Concerned citizen

Biren, Concerned citizen

C B Choudhary, Samajwadi Jan Parishan

Chandramani Piyush, Research scholar

David Solomon, Bagaicha

Dayamani Barla, Social activist

Debmalya Nandi, Concerned citizen

Deepak Bara

Dheeraj, Right to Food Campaign

Faisal Anurag, Journalist

Father Jothi S J, Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata

Hasan Raza, Patron of UMF Jharkhand

Inayat Anaita Sabhikhi, student, Harvard Kennedy School

Ishan Banerjee, Concerned citizen

James Herenj, Convenor, Jharkhand NREGA Watch

Jawahar Mehta, Right to Food Campaign

Jean Dreze, Concerned citizen

Kalyani Mina, Jharkhand Mahila Manch

Kashinath Chatterjee, All India People Science Network

Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

Kislaya, Journalist

Kritika Pandey, Concerned citizen

Kumar Sanjay, Social Worker, Ranchi

Kumar Varun, Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas

Mayank Sharma, Concerned citizen

Meghnath, Film maker

Nadeem Khan, All India People’s Forum

Nadeem, Concerned citizen

Nazar Khalid

Neha Joshi, Concerned citizen

Neha Trivedi, Concerned citizen

Nisha, Concerned citizen

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity

Pranjal Dhanda, Concerned citizen

Prem Verma, Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas

Raj Pal, Social activist, Patna

Rajendran Narayanan, Azim Premji University, Bangalore

Ramdeo Vishwabandhu

Ranjeet Kindo, Tribal Research and Training Centre, Guira, Chaibasa

Right to Food Campaign

Sakina Dhorajiwala, Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand

Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Jharkhand

Sanjay Sahni, Muzaffarpur

Sasmita Jena, Concerned citizen

Shailja Tandon, Concerned citizen

Siraj Dutta, Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand

Snehlata, Concerned citizen

Sonu, Concerned citizen

Sovan Hazra, Concerned citizen

Sudeshnasen Gupta, Concerned citizen

Swati Narayan, Right to Food Campaign

Vasavi Kiro, Ex Member Jharkhand State Commission for Women

Vikas Dubey, Research Scholar, IIT Kanpur

Vinod Singh, CPI (ML)

Vivek, Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand

Ziauddin Khan, Concerned citizen

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