December 6, 2012

CDRO strongly condemns and refutes the official versions touted by the Odisha police regarding the recent arrests of Sangram Mohanty and Kailash Mandal from Berhampur town on 5th December 2012. Both have been shown as Maoists and the police claim to have recovered arms, literature and other items from their possession.

The facts are otherwise. Sangram Mohanty, a thirty year old engineer turned businessman was busy in a motor repairing garage on 5th December in Berhampur town. When returning home in the morning, he was intercepted by plain clothed policemen in a Bolero jeep and hustled into the vehicle. This was corroborated by a local butcher who was a witness to the interception. Mohanty was first taken to the Reserve Police Barrack near Berhampur town and then, in another vehicle, transported to Mohana PS in Gajpati district, not far from the area where the recent fake encounter had taken place. His advocate was refused permission to meet him and late at night he was produced with his face covered before a first class judicial magistrate at R Udaigiri. After production, he was taken to judicial custody where he has started his hunger strike protesting his arrest. Although the magistrate reprimanded the police for covering Mohanty’s face, his bail petition was rejected as the magistrate claimed that it went beyond his purview.

It is necessary to add that Sangram Mohanty is the son of Dandapani Mohanty, convenor of Jan Adhikar Manch who has twice acted as interlocutor for securing the release from the Maoists, the collector of Malkangiri in 2011 and two Italian tourists abducted in 2012. He has been legally fighting for 657 persons lodged in 19 districts who have been arrested as Maoists by the police. He and his family have been repeatedly threatened and intimidated by the police over the last two years. His house was ransacked and raided by the police in 2010 and false cases were foisted under UAPA in February 2012. Most recently, he and his family have been receiving threats after his public condemnation of the fake encounter. Sangram Mohanty’s arrest is clearly a way of intimidating Mr Mohanty and his family.

In another instance, Kailash Mandal, a tribal and cultivator was picked up by the police on 2nd December in the evening from the bus stop at Berhampur town where Mandal had come for business. Mandal’s father contacted Dandapani Mohanty the following day and the latter sent SMSes to all officials in Odisha in connection with Mandal’s disappearance. Coincidentally, Mandal too was produced with Mohanty on the night of 5th/6th at R. Udaigiri.

CDRO demands:

* Immediate and unconditional release of Sangram Mohanty and Kailash Mandal.
* Action against the police for keeping Mandal in illegal detention for over three days, for arresting Mohanty and Mandal without procedure, for producing them with their faces covered, and for refusing permission to Mohanty’s lawyer from meeting him.
* Immediate end of harassment to Dandapani Mohanty and his family from the state forces.

Asish Gupta & Kranthi Chaitanya
Co-ordinator, CDRO