MEDIA RELEASE: 28 September, New Delhi

DSC04230 1 300x169 Social movements and democracy being suppressed through fabricated cases New Delhi: Depositions by representatives of social movements from across the country revealed a familiar pattern of shrinking spaces for democratic dissent. In struggle areas such as Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Odisha and Chhattisgarh the state response has been to use violence and fabricated cases as a systematic tool to undermine people’s struggle for social and environmental justice. A two day ‘Peoples hearing on fabricated cases’ is being organized at the Constitution Club by over 30 groups from across India under the banner of the National Campaign against Fabricated cases.

At Koodankulam, the site of a peaceful anti-nuclear struggle by local communities, the Tamil Nadu police has filed over 109 FIRs against 55,795 people and. At least 21 sections of the IPC have been used, including Section 121 (Waging War against the state) against 3600 people, and Section 124A (Sedition) against 3200 people. The state has been unable to respond to substantive issues such as nuclear safety, seismology, environment impact assessment and democratic consent raised by the peaceful protesters.

In the Konkan coast in Maharashtra, there has been a massive investment push with 76 Mining leases, 19 thermal power plants, 23 special economic zones and the Jaitapur nuclear power project being imposed undemocratically on the fisher folk and peasants of the region. People’s democratic right to protest was prevented through legal prohibitory orders and hundreds of activists have been charged with false cases. ‘We have been robbed of our dignity and rights of democratic expression’ said Vaishali Patel one of the leaders of the people’s movement.

Representing the POSCO Prathirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Abhay Sahoo narrated the numerous fictitious cases filed against local communities. Sahoo himself is a victim of some 50 fabricated cases, and was behind bars for 14 months in 2008-09, 5 months in 2011-2012, and is now on bail. While 4 leaders of PPSS are still in jail, more than 200 false cases have been lodged against villagers and warrant orders have been issued against more than 2000 people out of which more than 500 are women. Over 100 women were arrested during the last 3 years but were released on bail.

Because POSCO and Koodankulam are prestige projects for the Manmohan Singh Government, Sahoo predicted that repression and instances of fabricated cases will increase in the coming days. ‘Both these movements need to create more organic linkages and fight jointly for justice’, said Sahoo.

Representatives from SAHELI, a Delhi based womens support group spoke about Lingaram Kodopi and Soni Sori, the tragic case of an adivasi family, caught in the crossfire of Operation Green Hunt in Chhattisgarh. Sori continues to languish in a Raipur jail on bizarre charges of burning houses and trucks.

Former MLA Sunilam Mishra, who is the leader of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, spoke about how the police and administration have become tools in the hands of companies in Madhya Pradesh. The MP Government lodged 66 false cases against Dr Sunilam and his associate farmers in one single incident of police firing in Multai.

Shauzab Kazmi deposed on behalf of his journalist father Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi who was arrested in March 2012 in connection with a bomb blast involving an Israeli diplomat.

Journalists Seema Azad and Shahina K K also spoke about the fabricated cases against them. A jury which includes Dr. Binayak Sen, Justice Rajinder Sachar, Ram Punyani, Saba Naqvi and Ajit Sahi will issue recommendations at 4pm tomorrow and a press conference will follow.