Stand with Stan

We Stand with Stan

Jharkhand’s civil society condemns recent raids on Stan Swamy and other human rights activists

We, the undersigned, are shocked by the serial raids across the country on the homes of activists and public intellectuals who are critical of the government and the ruling party at the Centre. The arrests of prominent activists and intellectuals Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and others are nothing but an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalised and give voice to the voiceless.

The raid on the residential premises of Stan Swamy, a well-known activist of Jharkhand, was highly objectionable. Stan works for the rights of Adivasis and other underprivileged groups in the state. Among other issues, he 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, and a strong advocate of the Forest Rights Act, PESA and related laws. We know Stan as an exceptionally gentle, honest and public-spirited person. We have the highest regard for him and his work.

The Bagaicha campus was raided by the Maharashtra and Jharkhand police around 6 am on 28 August 2018. The police confiscated Stan’s mobile, laptop, some audio cassettes, some CDs, and a recent press release on the pathalgadi movement by Women against Sexual violence and state repression (WSS). Stan was not told about the details of the charges against him. The police video-recorded the entire event.

This raid comes just a few weeks after Stan and 19 other persons including activists, journalists and intellectuals were booked on charges of sedition by the Jharkhand government. The police have cited their facebook posts as evidence of their role in the pathalgadi movement in Khunti. Among other sections, they have been booked under 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2015.

The central government and media houses close to the BJP are now claiming 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. This is also an attempt by the BJP to invent a false enemy and engage in scaremongering in order to polarise the 2019 elections in its favour.

We demand immediate release of the arrested individuals and dropping of all false charges against them, as these arrests and raids are politically motivated and unjustified.

Abhay Xaxa
Adivasi Women's Network
Afzal Anees, United Milli Forum
Akash Ranjan, Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand
Akshat, Concerned citizen
Amrita Anand, a concerned active citizen
Ankita Aggarwal, Research scholar
Anumeha, Journalist
Asharfi Nand Prasad, Convenor, Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand
Ashok Verma, Jharkhand Loktantrik Manch
Asim Sarkar, All India People science Network
Aysha, Concerned citizen
B B Choudhary, Samajwadi Jan Parishad
Babita, Concerned citizen
Bace Buriuli
Balram, Social activist
Basant Hetamsaria, National Alliance of People's Movements
Binod Kumar, Concerned citizen
Biren, Concerned citizen
C B Choudhary, Samajwadi Jan Parishan
Chandramani Piyush, Research scholar
David Solomon, Bagaicha
Dayamani Barla, Social activist
Debmalya Nandi, Concerned citizen
Deepak Bara
Dheeraj, Right to Food Campaign
Faisal Anurag, Journalist
Father Jothi S J, Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata
Hasan Raza, Patron of UMF Jharkhand
Inayat Anaita Sabhikhi, student, Harvard Kennedy School
Ishan Banerjee, Concerned citizen
James Herenj, Convenor, Jharkhand NREGA Watch
Jawahar Mehta, Right to Food Campaign
Jean Dreze, Concerned citizen
Kalyani Mina, Jharkhand Mahila Manch
Kashinath Chatterjee, All India People Science Network
Kavita Srivastava, People's Union for Civil Liberties
Kislaya, Journalist
Kritika Pandey, Concerned citizen
Kumar Sanjay, Social Worker, Ranchi
Kumar Varun, Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas
Mayank Sharma, Concerned citizen
Meghnath, Film maker
Nadeem Khan, All India People's Forum
Nadeem, Concerned citizen
Nazar Khalid
Neha Joshi, Concerned citizen
Neha Trivedi, Concerned citizen
Nisha, Concerned citizen
Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity
Pranjal Dhanda, Concerned citizen
Prem Verma, Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas
Raj Pal, Social activist, Patna
Rajendran Narayanan, Azim Premji University, Bangalore
Ramdeo Vishwabandhu
Ranjeet Kindo, Tribal Research and Training Centre, Guira, Chaibasa
Right to Food Campaign
Sakina Dhorajiwala, Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand
Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Jharkhand
Sanjay Sahni, Muzaffarpur
Sasmita Jena, Concerned citizen
Shailja Tandon, Concerned citizen
Siraj Dutta, Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand
Snehlata, Concerned citizen
Sonu, Concerned citizen
Sovan Hazra, Concerned citizen
Sudeshnasen Gupta, Concerned citizen
Swati Narayan, Right to Food Campaign
Vasavi Kiro, Ex Member Jharkhand State Commission for Women
Vikas Dubey, Research Scholar, IIT Kanpur
Vinod Singh, CPI (ML)
Vivek, Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand
Ziauddin Khan, Concerned citizen

Why is Stan targetted?

*“Case against me is nothing but an absolute fabrication”*
*Stan Swamy*

Maharashtra police held a press conference in Mumbai on August 31, 2018. Additional Director-General (law and order) of Maharashtra police Mr. Parambir Singh told the media that in relation to the incident of Bhima-Koregaon, initially a FIR was lodged on January 8, 2018. According to him the name of Stan Swamy was added in the aforesaid FIR on August 23 along with the names of Arun Fereira, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalvez, Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde.

In the same press conference, ADG Parambir Singh talked about a letter allegedly written by Adv. Sudha Bhardwaj.

This letter, according to Maharashtra police, mentions that for the work of PPSC Stan Swamy had been appointed by comrade Prashant. It is also mentioned in the aforesaid letter that Sudha Bharadwaj had asked Stan Swamy to provide some funds for the activities of CPI (Maoist), but Stan Swamy did not make any definite commitment in this regard.

I would like to make it clear on my part with regard to the content of the said letter that Sudha Bhardwaj never asked me for any fund for the activities as mentioned in the letter. It is nothing but complete concoction and absolute falsehood that is being propagated by the Maharashtra police. Sudha Bhardwaj has also repeatedly denied the veracity of the said letter and has said that it is a fabricated letter.

Further, I believe that the possible reason behind this concoction of the case against me along with Sudha Bhardwaj is that I have been the convener of Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC) formed in December, 2015. I wish to make it clear that PPSC was formed purely to help under trial prisoners and it has no link whatsoever with any banned organizations. I have also filed a PIL in the Jharkhand High Court at Ranchi for the speedy trial of the under trial prisoners, languishing in the jails of Jharkhand. Taking serious note of my PIL, Hon’ble Jharkhand High Court on January 8, 2018 ordered the state of Jharkhand to provide all relevant and necessary information from all the jails of Jharkhand which must reveal the reasons for undue delay in the trial of these under trial prisoners. Still the proceedings in said PIL are going on in Jharkhand High Court.

In addition to this PIL, I have been raising awareness among Adivasi and Dalit people for their rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution especially the rights of the adibasi community provided in the Fifth Schedule and their right of self governance through Gram Sabhas as provided in PESA Act; I have also tried to make them aware of the judgment of the Supreme Court that ‘the owner of the land is also the owner of the subsoil minerals.’ I have also raised voice against the formation of Land Bank that intends to take over the “commons” such as roads, rivers, ponds, burial grounds, community forest lands etc which are traditionally used by the community.

I fear that these activities of mine have angered the powerful interests within the government that they not only have foisted a case of sedition against me in Jharkhand but now have included me in a false case that links me with banned organizations at national level in order to discredit me together with other intellectuals, legal professionals and social activists raising our voices for the rights of poorest of poor people in the state of Jharkhand and all over India.

Stan Swamy