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Urgent: Protest the Arrest of Action 2007 Activists

Unwarranted Police and Legal Action during Action 2007
Medha Patkar and 62 others manhandled and sent to jail
*** Immediate Action Required ***

Take Action TODAY to Support the Action 2007 and demand immediate release of those unlawfully arrested!
IT COUNTS, Be there !!
Call, e-mail, or Fax

Prime Minister's Office
Telephone: 91-11-23012312 / 23018939 / 23018668 / 23015470
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857.

Home Minister, Shivraj Patil
Phone: 23092462, 23094686 (O)
23017256, 23017580 (P)
23794842, 23793716 (R)
Fax: 23094221 (O)
23794833 (R)

Montek Singh Ahlwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission
Phone (Off.) 23096677, 2309 6666/ 96
Fax: 23096699 Extn. 2132/34
Email: dch@nic.in

DCP/New Delhi District
Office : Police Station, Parliament Street, Delhi
Tele : 011- 23747777
Fax : 011-23347184
e-mail : dcp-newdelhi-dl@nic.in

More Details @ www.action2007.net

Press Release and Draft Text of Letter to Montek Singh Ahluwalia dch@nic.in
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March 23 2007
Dear Friends

As you already know that 62 activists of Action 2007 have been arrested on 22nd March 2007, 2 pm at the Planning Commission Office. The group including activist Medha Patkar were having a symbolic protest against the privatisation and appropriation of water resources (by large dams, coke and pepsi bottling plants and other unsustainable forms of development) leading to deprivation and water scarcity faced by a large population in the country on World Water Day.

The police and Rapid Action Force did not allow the activists to take an appointment with the Deputy Chair of Planning Commission and arrested the activists while waiting in the compound of the Yojana Bhavan (Planning Commission office). While arresting, unnecessary force was used and many of the activists were manhandled and many
women activists were manhandled/attacked by men police. In spite of the fact that this was a non-violent protest, Rapid Action Force was deployed to arrest the activists, and they used such excessive force, tearing clothes of some of the women activists.

The activists were then taken to the Parliament Street Police station and were asked to sign blank arrest memos. There were procedural delays and only after 9 pm were they presented to the judicial magistrate who was called to the police station itself.

The magistrate has remanded all of them to judicial custody for 15 days until April 5th. This is completely disproportionate and excessive police and legal action against peaceful protestors who went to have a dialogue with the Planning Commission members on World Water Day!

The authorities have explicitly stated that they "want to teach the protestors a lesson." These arrests were not about violations of the law; rather they are a coordinated and concerted attempt to prevent the democratic protest of anti-people policies and an effort to discourage others who dare to raise their voice. The action has been ostensibly blacklisted by the media as no coverage has taken place. The protestors were arrested in the early afternoon. Though the formalities dragged on late into the night, only 2 women (out of 27) and the men were presented before the magistrate. It was announced that they would be transferred to Tihar Jail, only to later find out that the women were taken to Chanakyapuri Police station while the men were kept at Parliament Street police Station. They were finally transferred to Tihar only this morning, 23 March 2007 at 11 am. Old charges against Medha and other have resurrected. There is no information regarding their release. We have been given every indication that the powers that be want to stop the Jan Sansad at Jantar Mantar.

Talking Points:

�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnIs this the response to citizens who sought a meeting with the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman? The action was totally unwarranted and excessive use of force.
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnPoor people and activists have come from several states around the country in Action 2007 to draw the attention of the government in a peaceful manner. Ministers and Secretaries were invited for each session of the Jan Sansad (People's Parliament), but none of them showed up except one. When the protestors themselves go to the government building to meet the officials, they put the police in front and jail the people. If the government doesn't even give a hearing let alone meet their demands, then what message does this send out to people about the efficacy of peaceful protests? Do they want to turn every place into a Nandigram??
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnThe police didn't allow them to even go inside the building to request an appointment with the Planning Commission
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnThey were arrested at 2:15 pm, but the FIR (First Information Report) says that they were arrested at 3:30 pm, thus claiming that they were on the premises for longer than they actually were.
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnThe arrest memo signed by the people mentioned only Section 188, but the actual FIR has listed other sections and copies of the FIR were not handed to the people arrested, as per law.
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnMr. Lokhande, an elderly gentleman, who went to visit the arrested at the police station was also booked by the police.
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„Qƒn25 women were not even presented in front of the magistrate.
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnPeople who were standing at the gate and on the roadside, and had not entered the premises were also arrested.
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnThe attitude and language of the police explicitly showed that they wanted to give the people a lesson and show that the police is ready to use force to crush all protests
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnAll those remanded should be released immediately and the cases against them withdrawn
�„Q„Q„Q„Q„QƒnThere should be enquiry into the excessive police action against peaceful protestors, including manhandling of women and a woman's hand getting jammed in the gate
Action should be taken against the police S.H.O. (Station House Officer) who manhandled the protestors, as well as issued threats and used outrageous and abusive language with the protestors including women

Sample Letter:

From:

To,
Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia,
Deputy Chairman,
Planning Commission,
Government of India.

Dear Shri Ahluwalia

We are shocked to learn that noted senior activists from many organisations across India including Medha Patkar, as well as poor people from different states, who came to meet you on World Water Day were manhandled and arrested at your office building. As you know, the work that the Planning Commission has an enormous effect on millions of people of India and the affected people have a right to meet you and talk about their concerns.

The police and the Rapid Action Force used excessive force on the peaceful protestors including many women, and today we received news that all the 63 people have been remanded to judicial custody for 15 days. This police and legal action is completely disproportionate, and if the cases are not withdrawn, we are forced to conclude that the government wants to divert attention so that it can avoid listening to the people.

Thousands of people and activists have come from many states across India since January 19th, as part of Action 2007 program, to draw the attention of the government to the enormous problems being faced by them. They have been holding a Jan Sansad (People's Parliament) from Jan 20-24 at Jantar Mantar with sessions focused on the burning issues affecting them. For each session, invitations have been issued to the Ministers and Secretaries of concerned ministries so that they have the opportunity to hear the peoples problems and respond to them. However, apart from one exception, no representative of the government has shown up to hear the people.

Therefore the people themselves were forced to come to the government offices to have a dialogue and convey their demands. In this context, if all the government can do is impose police force on the citizens and take excessive legal action, then it sends out a message to Indian citizens that the government is not interested in peaceful methods of engaging with its citizens.

We request you to take immediate action to ensure that (a) all those arrested should be released immediately, (b) the cases against them withdrawn and (c) a dialogue be held by you with them on issues of national concern that they had come to present to you.

Sincerely,
XYZ
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