Jharkhand activist raided again in connection with Bhima-Koregaon incident, civil society furious

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Ranchi: The residence of 83-year-old Stan Swamy, a well-known activist from Jharkhand, was once again raided by the Maharashtra police today morning in Ranchi.

The eight-member police team searched Stan Swamy’s belongings for about three-and-half hours. They took Stan’s hard disk and internet modem and forced him to share the passwords for his email and Facebook accounts. Thereafter, they changed the passwords and seized the accounts. Maharashtra police had raided the Jharkhand activist’s residence last year on August 28, 2018.

Stan works for the rights of Adivasis and other underprivileged groups in the state. Among other issues, he also works on displacement, corporate loot of resources, the condition of undertrials and PESA. Stan has been a vocal critic of the government’s attempts to amend land laws and the land acquisition act in Jharkhand. He is also a strong advocate for the Forest Rights Act, PESA and other related laws. He also happens to be an exceptionally gentle, honest and public-spirited person.

Stan on January 26, the Republic Day this year had written an open letter to the common man of India, seeking their support to question the authority about the declining Human Right situation in India.

Following the raids by the Maharashtra police, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), an umbrella body of progressive activists has strongly condemned the police action.

The Mahasabha, which claims of having the highest regard for Stan and his works, is shocked by the intimidation and arrests of activists and public intellectuals who are critical of the government and the ruling party at the Centre.

It, in a press communiqué, stated that last year, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, and Rona Wilson were arrested on 6 June 2018, and they continue to be held imprisoned in the Yerwada Central Jail.

In 2018, the police arrested five more activists – Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha. They too are yet to be released.

“These imprisonments are nothing but an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for the rights of the marginalized,” states the press note.

It further added that the central government and media houses close to the BJP claim that the human rights activists were part of a Maoist conspiracy related to the Bhima-Koregaon incident. This concocted story seems to be part of a larger propaganda, based on terms like “urban naxals”, aimed at stifling any criticism of the government.

The raids and arrests are part of the government’s growing attempts to stifle dissent and intimidate those who are fighting for justice.

“JJM demands an immediate end to the raids, dropping of all false charges against human rights activists across the country and release of those who are arrested. These harassments are politically motivated and wholly unjustified,” read the press note.

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