Dr Saibal Jana Arrested In Chhattisgarh
Dr Saibal Jana, chief physician of Shaheed Hospital at Dalli Rajhara, Chhattisgarh has been arrested. He was picked up late at night by Chhattisgarh police. The hospital was founded Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha led by Late Shankar Guha Niyogi and run by money collected from the workers of the area. Dr. Jena’s arrest comes close on the heels of the acid attack on Soni Sori and harrassment of her relatives.
Dr.Saibal Jana was arrested in a case related to the police firing on agitating workers of the Bhilai Industrial Area on 1 July, 1992. Dr Jana was, on that day, among the team of doctors providing medical assistance to trade union activists of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha who were injured. We believe that Dr Jana’s arrest in this case, after a gap of 24 years, is motivated by sheer vendetta against him by BJP led Raman Singh government, that has an ideological hatred of anyone who stands up for the democratic rights of workers, farmers and ordinary Indian citizens.
Dr Jana has served the people of Chhattisgarh selflessly for over three decades and deserves to be given a national award for his service to humanity. Instead the BJP government in Chhattisgarh is persecuting him, which is a matter of shame for all those who believe in the rule of law, fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and even basic human decency. All cases against Dr Jana should be withdrawn and he should be released with an apology.
The arrest of Dr Jana comes after a series of attack on democratic organisations, activists and journalists in the state. On 20th February, Soni Sori was attacked with an acid like substance.
The Jagdalpur Legal Aid group (Jaglag), currently consisting of lawyers Shalini Gera and Isha Khandelwal were also hounded out of Jagdalpur on the 20th night, an hour before Soni Sori was attacked. Their landlord was picked up and detained in the police station and under threat asked them to vacate their house and office. Jaglag has been providing legal aid to adivasi prisoners under trial in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh since 2013. For the past year and a half, both lawyers were being hounded by the local police. They have been faced with thinly veiled threats at press conferences insinuating that the police are closely monitoring NGOs providing “legal aid to Naxalites”. Their clients have been informed that the police are about to arrest them for Naxalite activities. Visiting journalists and researchers have been told that they are a “Naxalite front. The local Bar Association, clearly prompted by the police, took out a resolution on October 3rd 2015 prohibiting them from practicing in the local courts. On their complaint, the State Bar Council of Chhattisgarh passed an interim order allowing them to practice again.
Bela Bhatia, an independent researcher, living in Bastar has similarly been working with Soni Sori and Jaglag on documenting and filing cases of human rights violations and people’s livelihoods. She has also been collecting information on the systematic use of violence by armed personnel and security forces. Bela Bhatia has also been threatened and her landlord is being found for questioning. Ex-Salwa Judum members, under the banner of Samajik Ekta Manch and groups such as the Naxal Pedit Sangharsh Samiti have threatened her along with Jaglag and Soni Sori.
Malini Subramanium, an independent journalist, reporting on issues in Chhattisgarh including the closing down of schools, women and children, brutal violence by security forces against the adivasis, fake encounters and surrenders in the Bastar. The domestic worker in Malini’s house was called and kept in the police station till late at night to terrorize her into implicating the journalist of being Naxalite. Her landlord was similarly threatened by the police into asking her to vacate the house. Malini, fearing for the safety of those who have always stood by her, left Jagdalpur on 19thFebruary.