23 July, New Delhi : Latest Update on Comrades in Mirzapur jail
Visit by Jarjum Ete and Kavita Krishnan on 18-19 July
Com Jarjum Ete President of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) along with Com Kavita Krishnan – AIPF National Campaign Committee member and National Secretary All India Progressive Woman’s Association (AIPWA) were in Mirzapur on 18 July to meet Roma, Sukalo, Rajkumari and other comrades in Mirzapur. Unfortunately however, 18 July being a weekly off day in Mirzapur jail, the jail superintendent could not arrange for their visit on this day.
Com Kavita had to return due to prior work obligations. On her way back she met comrades from the AIUFWP in Robertsgunj and assured them of her full support to the efforts to release comrades in jail as well as strengthen the movement on the ground.
President Com Jarjum, decided to stay back in Mirzapur. She met Roma, Sukalo, Rajkumari, Gambhira and other comrades on 19 July. She reports that all comrades are in high spirits – Roma is busy fighting for basic amenities for other prisoners in Mirzapur jail and doing a study of the condition of women prisoners in jail and vows to take this forward. The President felt that the fighting spirit exhibited by Roma and other jailed comrades reflects the deep political commitment of these comrades who will not be cowed down by ploys of the local administration and police of Sonbhadra district to disrupt the movement and also ensures that our movement against illegal land grab in Kanhar as well as the long fight for rights to forest and natural resources being fought in Sonbhadra over a decade will break new grounds. At a Press Conference in Mirzapur, Com Jarjum expressed her serious concern about the trampling of democratic voices of dissent by the state, which she felt might create opportunities for extreme left political tendencies. On her way back she interacted with many comrades of the Union and assured them of her maximum possible help in releasing jailed comrades. The people told her that they were seething with anger and would soon be launching demonstration programmes all across Sonbhadra to press for the release of comrades in jail.
Visit by Com Ashok Chowdhury, Rajnish Gambhir and Praveen Bharati (Lawyer – Allahabad High Court) on 21-22 July
The delegation met Roma, Sukalo and other comrades in jail who were all in high spirits despite some health related issues for Roma given her delicate medical condition and only discussed the steps ahead to take forward and strengthen the movement. The team also had a very good meeting with about 50 women comrades and a decision to start a demonstration programme at Robertsgunj has been taken to focus on three main demands – release of all prisoners, independent enquiry in to the unwarranted police firing on April 14 and punishment of
responsible police officers and end to terror tactics of the local and administration. This will begin from 25 July.
Legal Update :
Com Rajkumari , who has been in Mirzapur jail for three months now ( having been arrested on 21 April) was given bail on all cases against her by the District Court in Robertsgunj on 21 July. She should walk out of jail in a couple of days after paperwork is completed.
This bail gives us hope that bail would also be granted to Roma and Sukalo soon as they are also similarly charged. Their bail applications will be heard in the District Session Court on 27th and 28th July. But bail
applications for Gambhira Prasad, Pankaj Gautam and other two community activists were rejected on the same charges, where they were named in the F.I.R. Senior H.C. lawyers of PUCL, U.P. have been given their papers for applying bail in the H.C.
Meanwhile formal complaints have also been registered at the National Human Rights Commission – NHRC – where a delegation comprising of Jarjum Ete, Ashok Chowdhury,Kavita Krishnan, Avijit and Rajat ( Supreme Court lawyer) met the Joint registrar on 16 July, who listened to our case intently, registered the case immediately and said that the NHRC would whatever is possible
Other processes – primarily political are being looked into by the groups in Delhi, the leadership of the Union with Com Sanjaya Garg – Working President playing a key role and by the NTUI. Senior political leaders from fraternal organizations are also negotiating with the concerned officials in Lucknow.
It is our hope that comrades should be released from jail shortly.
All India Union of Forest Working People