Comrades Roma and Sukalo’s judicial remand extended by another fourteen days today:
New Delhi 13 July 2015 – NTUI National Secretary Roma and All India Union of Forest (AIUPFW) Working People National Committee Member Sokalo who were arrested in Sonebhadra on 30th June 2015 have been remanded to a further 14days in judicial custody.
Comrades Roma, who is also Deputy General Secretary AIUFWP and Sokalo were arrested from the AIUFWP office in Robertsganj on 30th June as they were preparing for the rally of the All India People’s Forum on the basis of three FIRs, with neither of them named in any of these. The charges against them are false, fabricated and politically motivated. Subsequently arrest warrants were also issued against two earlier FIRs that had never been pressed. In the course of the last fortnight bail has been obtained against two of the five FIRs being pressed.
The AIUFPW has been at the forefront of the struggle for land rights of the people threatened with displacement by the Kanhar Dam project. This arrest is the fallout of the incidents of police firing on peaceful protestors against illegal land acquisition for the Kanhar Dam project. Uttar Pradesh Police fired indiscriminately on several hundred dalits and adivasis, including large numbers of women and children, on the morning of Ambedkar Jayanti (14 April).
Several women are injured. Following this, false cases were filed against countless unnamed persons. Four days later, on 18 April, there was a second instance of police firing in which once again several people were seriously injured and some of the key activists of the movement arrested. Those arrested are yet to be released. Despite there being court orders, including from the National Green Tribunal, against the persistence of land acquisition in scheduled areas, the Government of Uttar Pradesh has pursued and targeted activists who are protesting its illegal actions at Kanhar.
Apart from being illegal the actions of the Uttar Pradesh government are duplicitous. The Samajwadi Party, the party currently in government, has opposed both the Land Acquisition Ordnance and the bill before parliament in the JPC.
Speaking to the several hundred members of the AIUFPW outside the court today, Sujata Mody, National Secretary, NTUI said: ‘the NTUI will leave no stone unturned to ensure the early release of Comrades Roma, Sukalo and others while continuing our fight against the land acquisition bill’. Com. Sujata and Supreme Court Advocate Rajat Kumar were in Mirzapur yesterday to meet with the comrades in the district jail there and at the court in Robertsganj today. They also meet the District Magistrate, Sonebhadra District, to press for the early release of the comrades.
The NTUI secretariat at its meeting decided at its meeting in New Delhi on 10th July 2015 that:
- It will launch a bulk text message (SMS) campaign to the District Collector, Sonbhadra on every date of court hearing. This was carried forward today by some 200 comrades of our Mumbai affiliates most notably the Kachra Vahatuk Shramik Sangathana (KVSS).
- The Secretariat reaffirmed the commitment to the AIUFPW that it will co-ordinate with all affiliates to ensure the success of mass action that it calls for and
- The Secretariat will co-ordinate with other support organisations in Delhi to immediately file complaints with the National Human Rights Commission and the National Women’s Commission.