Jungle Raj

While media attention is now focused on JNU event and its consequences, what is being largely ignored is how the Chattisgarh police is on the rampage to silence voice of dissent in any form.

Dr Saibal Jana who is in the forefront of people’s health movement in India was arrested recently in connection with a case 24 years old.

And what a move by the Chhattisgarh administration! Dr Jana was declared absconder, when he has been working almost round the clock treating patients including police personnel in Shaheed Hospital for the last 31 years.

People's health movement was initiated by CMSS (Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh) under the leadership of legendary trade union leader Shankar Guha Neogy on 15 August 1981. Dr Jana joined the movement in 1982. When Shaheed Hospital was built in 1983 as part of the movement, Dr Jana took over as the doctor in charge. While many doctors have worked in Shaheed Hospital during different periods, Dr Jana has continued to work there for the last 31 years. Shaheed Hospital has grown over the years and caters to a large section of poor tribals from all over Chhattisgarh.

Today Dr Jana is widely acclaimed as a renowned physician. A petite, polite and simple man, almost like Gandhiji in appearance and behaviour, he is ready to treat his patients any hour of the day and night. Hardly anybody has seen him angry and shouting. And the patients love him. Today there are many doctors working in Shaheed Hospital, but Dr Jana no doubt remains the backbone.

Dr Jana's arrest on such a flimsy ground as an absconder in a case of obstructing police personnel from performing their duties 24 years ago comes as a shocking surprise. After the murder of Shankar Guha Neogy by the hired killers of liquor barons of Bhilai, there were widespread repercussions and Chhhatisgarh Mukti Morcha organised a "rail roko" movement in Bhilai on 1st July 1992. In the police firing that ensued 19 persons died. Dr Jana along with his team went to Bhilai to treat the injured. So the police put up a case against him and a few others. He has been booked under Sections 147, 148, 149, 333 and 152 of the Indian Penal Code.

Meanwhile the Chattisgarh police threatens Soni Sori family, takes them to undisclosed location.

Ms Soni Sori was attacked with some corrosive chemicals by three unidentified men on a motorcycle, while she was returning home around 10:30 pm on 20.2.2016. An SIT with ASP Sukma Mr Santosh Singh, CSP Jagdalpur Ms Deepmala Kashyap and ASP Bijapur IK Elesela was set up to investigate this attack on Ms Sori.

Instead of conducting a genuine inquiry into a serious matter, the police under Mr Kalluri (IG) have turned this investigation into an excuse for harassing Ms Soni's relatives—her father, sister and brother-in-law. Through such intense persecution of all those associated with Soni Sori the police authorities wish to silence her and pressure her into withdrawing the serious charges of atrocities that she has leveled against them—if that happens, it will indeed be a very severe blow to the democratic framework of Indian Constitution. 

Vol. 48, No. 39, Apr 3 - 9, 2016