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International Campaign Against War on the People in India

 

Stop all attacks against the people!

 

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Last updateWed, 25 Sep 2013 1pm

BackYou are here: ResistanceStatements Release All Political Prisoners Unconditionally! Remove All Armed Forces from Areas of People's Movements!

Statements

Release All Political Prisoners Unconditionally! Remove All Armed Forces from Areas of People's Movements!

...Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

-- WH Auden

Dear friends,

The miseries of vast sections of the toiling masses have gone from bad to worse with the aggressive implementation of the policies of Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation by the successive governments at the centre and various states in India. These policies of selling the immense wealth and resources of the people to the Multinational Corporations and domestic money bags for a song, have threatened the very survival of lives and livelihoods of the masses in the subcontinent. Orissa has been the nerve centre of such desperate attempts from the ruling classes to open up the veins of her rich forests, rivers, valleys and hills for imperialist loot and plunder. Needless to say the people of Orissa have fought tooth and nail these dog-eat-dog policies of the government in service to imperialist capital and their domestic collaborationists.

Role of the State: Red Carpet for Capital while Criminalising Dissent

Kalinganagar, Kashipur, Paradip, Niyamgiri, Narayanpatna, Jagatsinghpur-the length and breadth of Orissa are witnessing intense people's movements against the loot and plunder of their resources and their livelihood. People are braving the worst kinds of state brutality refusing to submit themselves to the diktats of the logic of capital-whether foreign or domestic. Here the State has come out openly in favour of capital. Thus employment generation, agricultural production and manufacture, healthcare, education all avenues of generation of value have been totally surrendered to the will of the market. State has become the facilitator for maximisation of the surplus generated. Any attempt to collectively bargain from the side of the people for a better say or share in the overall wealth generated has been met with by the draconian instruments of law that have made even the colonial days pale into insignificance. And here one can find a Maximum State intervening in every aspect of the everyday life of common people.

Right to protest, right to form unions, right to organise the poorest of the poor for their lives and livelihoods all have been profiled as 'anti-development' and hence 'anti-national'. Any such attempt is being branded 'unlawful'. The leadership and the activists of such movements are being arrested, kidnapped, kept in illegal custody and brutally tortured, and in many cases fake-encountered. Women have become the targets of sexual violence by the vigilante gangs promoted by the state, and paramilitary forces. Prisons in Orissa like other parts of the subcontinent are flooded with people struggling for their lives and livelihoods.

Mounting State Repression, Crowded Prisons

Poor tribals from the ones in their teens to those who are in the twilight of their life all abound the prisons of Orissa. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the jail conditions in Indian prisons are the worst in the world. And Orissa is not an exception. In a matter of five months at least two custodial deaths (Lalit Dehuri and Pradeep Majhi) have been recorded in the prisons in Orissa. And in both cases it has been highlighted by the PUCL that the prisoners died due to brutal torture. And day by day we are witness to the news of more and more arrests of the most deprived and exploited people of Orissa-the tribals of Naryanpatna, Koraput, Malkangiri, etc. As of now more than 600 tribal people have been put behind bars under serious trumped-up charges. Some of them have been charged as Maoists or Maoist sympathisers. And one never knows when they will see the light. In many instances the person arrested is never even produced before the court within 24 hours. They are kept for days in illegal custody, subjected to the worst kinds of torture so that their morale is weakened. Often it requires the kith and kin of the arrested/kidnapped to approach the court to order the police against their act of impunity so as to remind them about the need to follow procedures and norms as enshrined in the constitution and the IPC. But there are few cases where the adivasi could prevail over the guardians of law to uphold the same in letter and spirit.

Public Pressure to Release All Political Prisoners and Government's Commitment

It is in such a scenario due to public pressure the Orissa government had announced that they would release all the 600 plus political prisoners lodged in various prisons-Bhubaneswar, Koraput, Sambalpur, Malkangiri, etc-in Orissa. It was for the first time the real profile of the more than 600 political prisoners lodged in various prisons in Orissa came before the public otherwise prejudiced by the sensational and hostile caricatures-fodder to the so-called 'war against terror'-of this faceless people indulged in by the 24x 7 media. This announcement to release all the political prisoners was made in the presence of civil society members who had come as mediators to facilitate the release of Collector Vineel Krishna and Junior Engineer Pabitra Majhi who were taken hostage by the CPI (Maoist). Besides, the same announcement was also made by the government in the floor of the Orissa Assembly.

More than 3 months have passed. In the mean time the Government had several rounds of meetings with the civil society members wherein it reassured its commitment to the pledge it had made on the release of political prisoners. And the Government of Orissa is yet to act on this important announcement of its commitment to release all the political prisoners. The political prisoners in the jails of Koraput, Malkangiri, etc. have gone on a week-long hunger strike to demanding their unconditional release protesting against their unjust incarceration in the dungeons. But all these, as time runs out, seem to have fallen on deaf years.

Orissa Government: A Caricature Lacking of Political Will?

As time unfolds the intentions of the Orissa government betrays the words of reassurance that it had renewed withdemocrats benefiting the toiling masses of state. One can see a continuing trail of aggression-albeit all tall claims of no force were being employed on the people-on the side of the state and its executive with the go-ahead given to the notorious Posco project in Paradip. And to make matters worse, more and more forces armed to the teeth are being deployed in all these areas to quell the mounting protests of the people. There are several instances of repression on the tribals including attempts to rape ever since the government's announcement to not deploy forces in the areas of people's movements. All these are abominable signs of the lack of political will on the side of the Orissa Government to abide by its own assurances-respect for the process of dialogue and deliberations not to say protect the interest of the people.

It becomes important at this juncture for all progressive and democratic forces in Orissa to come forward and put pressure on the Government to release all the political prisoners unconditionally. The colonial trait of using draconian laws and other repressive state machinery as instruments to break the morale of the people who are fighting for their fundamental freedoms is unprecedented with the unabashed alliance of the government in service of the market perfecting the role of brutalising machine out to wipe out the last traces of resistance. The striking example is that of widespread use of the worst ever draconian law, the UAPA, to condemn the prisoners into oblivion for eternity. Herein comes the role of every freedom loving person to come forward against this lawless, unconstitutional assault on the right to a dignified life and livelihood without exploitation, oppression, discrimination, destitution and death.

We invite you all to be part of a day-long convention that would reflect the plight of the political prisoners belonging to a wide spectrum of people's resistances in Orissa. Their story is one of uncompromising principles for the greater common good, which has a binding on all our future, our posterity. The convention would bring out the facts pertaining to the real nature of the political prisoners crowding the prisons in various parts of Orissa. It once again unmasks the beastly profile of the worst kind of draconian laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

  • Release All Political Prisoners Unconditionally!
  • Repeal UAPA!
  • Stop framing people fighting for their lives and livelihoods under trumped up charges!
  • Respect the assurances declared in the floor of the Orissa Assembly!
  • Remove All Armed Forces from Areas of People's Movements!

Convenor: Bansidhar Das (Orissa Chapter)

COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS