Release the leadership of the All India Union of Forest Working People:
New Delhi, 1 July 2015: Roma Malik, National Secretary, NTUI and Deputy General Secretary of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) and Sukalo Gond, Executive Committee, AIUFWP were arrested and interned at the Mirzapur jail yesterday. Many activists were arrested with them early yesterday moring from the AIUFWP office in Robertsganj (District Sonebhadra, UP) while preparing for a public meeting of the All India Peoples’ Forum (AIPF). The other activists were released later in the day. All arrests, by the police, and the remand, by the Sonebhadra Court , of Roma and Sokalo are based on three FIRs in which no individual has been named.
The AIPF, a countrywide platform of democratic organisations and individuals, has held several programmes across the country to mark the dark days of the emergency and against the anti-people policies of the BJP government in the past week in its 100 day Campaign for Land Rights and Labour Rights. The Robertsganj public meeting was part of this nationwide plan.
The AIUFWP as member of both the AIPF and the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan has been part of the countrywide opposition to the amendments to the land acquisition legislation being proposed by the BJP government at the centre that has been imposed through successive ordinances. The AIUFPW is at the forefront of the struggle for the rights of the people threatened to be displaced 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 day 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. These charges are false, arbitrary and politically motivated and are aimed at crushing the peaceful and democratic struggle against the illegal acquisition of land for the Kanhar Dam project. 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.
Yesterday evening, five thousand people gathered to participate in the AIPF rally followed by the public meeting carrying on with their plan for the day as also protesting the arrests. The district administration was forced to release most of the activists arrested in the morning but refused to release Roma and Sukalo, who have been in the leadership of many struggles on land rights of adivasis in the area for over a decade. This actually is a clear indication of the fact that the policy of grab is not determined by political colour but by political power and its nexus, irrespective of colour, with corporations.
The NTUI calls upon the Government of Uttar Pradesh to immediately release Comrades Roma and Sokalo alongwith those arrested at the Kanhar protest on 18 April 2015 and to withdraw all false cases against the activists involved.