Conduct Impartial Inquiry into Questionable Obstruction of Public Pathways by Provincial Armed Constabulary 

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) expresses solidarity with the ongoing people’s struggle against alleged arbitrary obstruction of public pathway by the Provincial Armed Force (PAC) of Uttar Pradesh Govt. in Sitapur District. We also express outrage at the fact that instead of taking action against the high-handedness of the PAC, an ill-conceived FIR has been registered against activist Richa Singh and other residents of Sudamapuri, the site of the struggle.

The issue at hand pertains to alleged unlawful construction of barricades at the 90-year old Napier Road in Sudamapuri area of Sitapur in the last week of May. Despite being a public road, officially registered with the Municipality of Sitapur (as per a 2015 govt document), Napier road has seen occasional ‘encroachment’ by 11th Battalion of PAC, Sitapur. PAC or Pradeshik Armed Constabulary is armed wing of UP Police, maintained at key locations across the state and functions in specified instances, upon direction from the senior police officials.

Reportedly, on 29th May, the PAC stealthily began erecting gates on three corners of the Napier road. When this was intimated to the local officials, the EO, Sitapur Municipality visited the site on the morning of 30th May and assured that the matter would be resolved in 3 days and that no gates must be erected. However, on the morning of 31st, the PAC suddenly stated erecting gates again. When Richa Singh of Sangatin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (SKMS – NAPM, Uttar Pradesh) and few other women protested this highhandedness, immediately around 500 PAC constabulary descended on the scene and surrounded them, in a clear attempt to scare and muzzle any questioning.

Soon thereafter, other senior officials of the district administration arrived to assess the situation. Later in the day, Richa was called to the Municipality office (Nagar Palika), then to the Collector’s house and then again to the Nagar Palika on the 1st June for discussions regarding the same. However, even as the matter was under consideration, the PAC went ahead and erected the gates after 12 am on 1st June.

What was even more outlandish is that the same day, (31st May) an FIR was registered under Sec 188 IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), Sec 269 IPC (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and Sec 270 IPC (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) as well as Sec 3 of the Epidemic Act, 1897 against Richa Singh, residents of Sudamapuri Pankaj Mishra, Sakeel, Arvind Srivastav, Vakeel and 20 other ‘unknown’ persons !

In what has now extended over 12 days, the district has seen multiple citizens delegations visit offices of senior officials as well as protests by people of Sudamapuri and other people’s organizations in the area, demanding dropping of these arbitrary charges. However, in a textbook example of collusion of bureaucratic powers, the district authorities seem to be keen on supporting the PAC, rather than the people of Sudamapuri. Instead of inquiring into the matter in an impartial way, the authorities have suggested that people take an ‘alternative route’ via the ‘Mall Road’. The locals have objected on the ground that this route has dense forests on either side, and is unsafe for travellers, especially women.

It is indeed intriguing as to how PAC authorities allowed disregard of Covid-lockdown norms by assembling huge number of jawans on the 31st May. Moreover, there appears no patent urgency to have pushed this construction without taking the locals into confidence. Instead, the residents and activists are now being hounded by false charges. A bare perusal of the FIR reveals that it is devoid of any substance and makes completely baseless allegations that Richa and others ‘ran away from the Napier road site’, whereas, in reality, they were very much there, in the presence of all senior district officials.

 

NAPM demands that the FIR against Richa Singh and all other residents of Sudamapuri be immediately withdrawn. An inquiry must be initiated into this entire episode, leading to a completely ill-motivated and factually wrong FIR.

 

We also demand that an independent inquiry be conducted into the issue of arbitrary erection of gates by PAC on what is claimed to be Municipality land and accordingly a quick decision be taken on the right of the local communities to public pathway. 

 

We stand in solidarity with the residents of Sudamapuri and the local people, especially women, who have been resiliently protesting this high handedness of the administration, in Covid times.

 

We also warn governments against arbitrary use of law, including the Epidemics Act against activists, who are infact working day and night during lockdown to assist the affected people, especially migrant workers.

 

Endorsed by: 

 

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Dr. Sunilam, Adv. Aradhna Bhargava, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti; Rajkumar Sinha, Chutka Parmaanu Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Madhya Pradesh;

Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information; Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL); Kailash Meena NAPM Rajasthan;

Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan; Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad & Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, Manorama, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti; Lingaraj Pradhan, Satya banchor, Anant, Kalyan Anand, Arun Jena, Trilochan Punji, Lakshimipriya Mohanty and Balakrishna Sand, Manas Patnaik, NAPM Odisha;

Sandeep Pandey (Socialist Party of India); Richa Singh & Rambeti (Sangatin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan, Sitapur); Rajeev Yadav & Masihuddin bhai (Rihai Manch, Lucknow & Azamgadh); Arundhati Dhuru & Zainab Khatun (Mahila Yuva Adhikar Manch, Lucknow), Suresh Rathaur (MNREGA Mazdoor Union, Varanasi);  Arvind Murti & Altamas Ansari (Inquilabi Kamgaar Union, Mau), Jagriti Rahi (Vision Sansthan, Varanasi); Satish Singh (Sarvodayi Vikas Samiti, Varanasi); Nakul Singh Sawney (Chal Chitra Abhiyan, Muzaffarnagar); NAPM Uttar Pradesh

Chennaiah,Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union-APVVU, Ramakrishnam Raju,United Forum for RTI and NAPM, Chakri (Samalochana), Balu GadiBapji Juvvala, NAPM Andhra Pradesh;

Jeevan Kumar & Syed Bilal (Human Rights Forum), P. Shankar (Dalit Bahujan Front), Vissa Kiran Kumar & Kondal (Rythu Swarajya Vedika), Ravi Kanneganti (Rythu JAC), Ashalatha (MAKAAM), Krishna (Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika-TVV), M. Venkatayya (Telangana Vyavasaya Vruttidarula Union-TVVU), Meera Sanghamitra, Rajesh Serupally, NAPM Telangana;

Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union; Maj Gen (Retd) S.G.Vombatkere, NAPM, Nawaz, Dwiji, Nalini, NAPM Karnataka

Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai; Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation; Suthanthiran, Suthanthiran, Lenin & Arul Doss, NAPM Tamilnadu;

Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan, Prof. Kusumam Joseph, Sharath Cheloor, Vijayaraghavan Cheliya, Majeendran, Magline, NAPM, Kerala;

Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi Astivtva Raksha Samiti; Basant Hetamsaria, Aloka Kujur, Dr. Leo A. Singh, Afzal Anish, Sushma Biruli, Durga Nayak, Jipal Murmu, Priti Ranjan Dash, Ashok Verma, NAPM Jharkhand;

Anand Mazgaonkar, Swati Desai, Krishnakant, Parth, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti; Nita Mahadev, Mudita, Lok Samiti; Dev Desai, Mujahid Nafees, Ramesh Tadvi, Aziz Minat and Bharat Jambucha, NAPM Gujarat;

Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan sangathan; Jabar Singh, Uma, NAPM, Uttarakhand;

Manshi Asher and Himshi Singh, Himdhara, NAPM Himachal Pradesh

Erid Pinto; NAPM Goa

Gautam Bandopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha; Kaladas Dahariya, RELAA, NAPM Chhattisgarh;

Samar Bagchi, Amitava Mitra, Binayak Sen, Sujato Bhadro, Pradip Chatterjee, Pasarul Alam, Amitava Mitra, Tapas Das, Tahomina Mandal, Pabitra Mandal, Kazi Md. Sherif, Biswajit Basak, Ayesha Khatun, Rupak Mukherjee, Milan Das, Asit Roy, Mita Bhatta, Yasin, Matiur Rahman, Baiwajit Basa, NAPM West Bengal;

Suniti SR, Sanjay M G, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, Mukta Srivastava, Yuvraj Gatkal, Geetanjali Chavan, Bilal Khan, Jameela, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan; Chetan Salve, Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM Maharashtra;

Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, J S Walia, NAPM Haryana;

Guruwant Singh, NAPM Punjab;

Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan; Mahendra Yadav, Kosi Navnirman Manch; Sister Dorothy, Aashray Abhiyan, NAPM Bihar;

Rajendra Ravi, NAPM; Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini; Anjali Bharadwaj and Amrita Johri, Satark Nagrik Sangathan;  Sanjeev Kumar, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch; Anita Kapoor, Delhi Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar Union; Sunita Rani, National Domestic Workers Union; Nanhu Prasad, National Cyclist Union; Madhuresh Kumar, Priya Pillai, Aryaman Jain, Divyansh Khurana, Evita Das; Anil TV, Delhi Solidarity Group

For any further details, contact E-mail: napmindia@gmail.com


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