We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the foisting of a false case on Debaranjan, member of the Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangathan (GASS) in Odisha.
Debaranjan has for several years now been deeply involved with people's struggles in Odisha, first as a full-time activist in Kashipur, Rayagada district, then as film-maker, and most recently also as a member of the democratic rights group GASS. His has been among the consistent voices in Odisha for over twenty years against state repression on people's struggles, atrocities faced by adivasis, dalits and other underprivileged communities, and against communalization of the polity and in society. This is the political context in which he is being targeted.
Last week, Debaranjan was sought to be interrogated by the Special Branch of the Intelligence Department while he was engaged in work on a documentary film in Malkangari district. Subsequently, a number of false charges were filed against him by the Malkangiri Police, including charges pertaining to molestation under Section 354 (b) of the 1PC, and under sections 354 and 323. We believe these charges to be patently false and absurd, and constitute nothing other than harassment and part of the continued persecution of democratic voices in this country.
Debaranjan has been part of investigations by democratic rights organizations into police violence and extra-judicial killings by the state seeking to target Left movements in Odisha. He was part of other investigations into cornmunal violence in southern Karnataka and in Kandhamal district in Odisha. He has been part of struggles against and critiqued rampant development, mining in adivasi areas, the forced displacement and police repression that inevitably comes in the wake of such development projects. Whatever one may think of such development, we believe that those critical of it have a right to have their voices heard, to highlight and be critical of state atrocities, and to express dissent. By foisting false charges on Debaranjan, the state seeks to silence democratic voices in Odisha, and implicitly threaten democratic voioes everywhere in this country. We condemn such harassment, the shrinking of the democratic space, and demand that the false charges on Debaranjnn be withdrawn immediately and unconditionally.
Arundhati Roy, writer, Volga, feminist writer. Hyderabad, Anand Patwardhan, film-maker, Mumbai, Rahul Roy, film-maker, Delhi, Surya Shankar, film-maker, Odisha, Kasturi, People's Film Collective and Cinema of Resistance, Kolkata, Sanjay Kak, film-maker, Delhi, Madhusree Mukerjee, writer and 21 others
Disha Student Organization and Naujawan Bharat Sabha organized a solidarity protest demonstration on August 20, 2015 condemning the state sponsored Police repression of the struggling students of FTII and the midnight crackdown at FTIl arresting 5 FTII Students at Arts Faculty, North Campus, University of Delhi . The Police barged inside the campus of FTII around midnight on 18 august and arrested 5 FTII students. The Police had issued warrants against 15 students. FIRs against another 25 unnamed students have been filed by the Police. During this raid, the Registrar, Director, Wardens of boys and girls hostels had left the premises of the campus as a part of their premeditated plan. The Police force manhandled and harassed the students. The 5 arrested students were given bail as a result of the nationwide protests condemning the Police repression. The FIRs, however, have not been taken back. Even now no University official is present in the FTII campus. It is clear that the Police plans to conduct more such midnight raids. What needs to be noted is that the Police conducted this crackdown in FTII at midnight as if the students there are criminals or terrorists. In truth, real character of the Fascist government has been exposed by the increasing repression of the Student movements be it in Pondicherry University, Himachal University, Kashmir University, Biju Patnaik Film Institute of Orissa or Presidency University. The repression of FTII students is not an isolated event. The Director has alleged that the students of FTII have threatened him, intimidated him, mentally tortured him whereas the truth is that the Students had simply gone to talk to him and wanted to seek explanations and answers to their questions after being fed up with the autocratic attitude of the administration. If there was a law and order situation then the Police could have acted promptly, but the Police acted a good 2 and a half days afterwards the incident and arrested 5 FTII students which clearly exposes the vile intentions of the authorities. The crackdown and the raid on the FTII students at midnight by the Police was done because the threats like rustication, suspension were not able to break up the unity of the FTII students. Now the goons (both uniformed and non-uniformed) are attacking, harassing the students and arresting the students. The fascist thugs have attacked the brave struggling students of Pondicherry University yesterday and vandalized the offices of Professors and the Police didn't even intervene upon being called for help.
Vol. 48, No. 9, Sep 6 - 12, 2015