Thursday 19 July 2007

ARREST OF ACTIVIST SAROJ MOHANTY

AN URGENT APPEAL
17 July 2007

Saroj Mohanty, poet and long-time activist with Prakrutik SampadSurakhya Parishad (PSSP), which has over 15 years been opposing theentry of large bauxite mining companies in Kashipur, has beenarrested. Saroj was picked up at a railway station in RayagadaDistrict, on Saturday, 14 July. He is currently in judicial custody inRayagada district jail.The charges against him are completely fabricated but serious. Thesecharges include section 395 of the IPC (Dacoity), section 397 (Robberyor dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt), and section450 (House trespass with intention to commit offence that ispunishable with imprisonment for life).

These absurd charges against Saroj, stem from attempts in late 2004 bythe mining company UAIL and the Orissa government, hell-bent onpushing theproject for bauxite mining through, to undermine theresistance to the project by slapping false cases on the leadershipand mass base of PSSP. The intense protests by the people was met bysevere repression, harassment and arrests, which continues to thisday. As part of the continuing repression carried out at the time, anumber of PSSP activists and ordinary people were falsely charged.

Among them was Saroj Mohanty.Prior to his intense involvement as senior activist with the strugglesof the adivasi people of Kashipur region, Saroj Mohanty was activewith the anti-liquor movement in Sambalpur district as soon as hecompleted his MA in Political Science from Sambalpur University . He has been a student leader throughout his college and university years.

He is a well-known progressive Oriya poet and intellectual and iscurrently the Editor of the respected journal Anvesha. Anvesha hasbeen a forum for rich debate on questions pertaining to development, industrialization and other important socio-economic issues of ourtime.

The arrest of Saroj Mohanty at this time constitutes a setback to themovement in Kashipur and to movements that are erupting all over thecountry against the plunder of people's resources, lands andlivelihoods by large industry. It is an increasingly alarming trendthat activists and movements struggling for preservation of people'slives and livelihoods are being ruthlessly targeted physically and bythe use of law.

This is an urgent appeal to you/ your organization to join the manyvoices demanding his release and that these fabricated cases againstSaroj and other activists of PSSP Kashipur be withdrawn.A protest programme demanding his release is being organized on 21July in Bhubaneshwar in front of RAJ Bhavan, the Governor's Residencefrom 10 am onwards.

We request you to lend your solidarity and raiseyour voice byparticipating in the programme; organize protest programmes in yourown city on that date; write to the Chief Minister and Governor,Orissa demanding that Saroj be released. The suggested draft of themail is at the end of this letter. You can change it in your own waytoo. Do send a copy to kashipursolidarityi ndelhi@yahoo. com.

In solidarity, Ranjana Padhi, Nagraj Adve, Madhumita Dutta, D Manjit and Arun BidaniFor Kashipur Solidarity Group

Shri Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister of Orissa
Tel. No.(O) 0674 2531100,
Fax no. 0674 2535100,
Email: cmo@ori.nic. in

Shri Rameshwar Thakur
GovernorPhone 0674-2536111
Fax 0674-2536582

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