A leading environmental activist Ramesh Agarwal was shot at and injured on Saturday by two gunmen, allegedly at the behest of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, at his computer shop in Raigarh.
Agarwal, who works for environmental rights organisations Jan Chetna Manch, suffered gunshot wounds in his thigh. He is undergoing treatment in a Raigarh hospital.
Ramesh Agrawal is known for protecting local communities from industrial pollution and displacement due to industrial projects through Right to Information Act (RTI).
His colleagues at the NGO have claimed that he was attacked at the behest of officials of Jindal Steel and Power for opposing the company’s expansion plans in the district.
Activist Raghubir Pradhan, who was with Mr. Agarwal when the incident occurred, said that two men barged in his shop and threatened him to stop opposing JSPL and then shot him twice through his thigh.
Activists, NGOs have condemned the incident and demanded an independent, impartial probe into the incident.
Mr. Agarwal has been fighting a relentless battle against pollution caused by industrial projects and the potential negative environmental impact of proposed projects in central Chhattisgarh.
Last year, Amnesty International had extended support to his struggle and sought his release when he was arrested for leading a campaign to protect local Adivasis communities from pollution caused by industrial projects.
“Instead of arresting those who speak out in defence of local communities’ rights, the Chhattisgarh authorities should make sure human rights defenders and environmental activists can carry out their legitimate, peaceful work without fear of harassment and intimidation,” Amnesty International had stated in a statement.
This is not the first time when Jindal Steel and Power Limited has indulged in such condemnable acts to suppress the protests against the company.
Earlier this year, security men of the company had brutally thrashed over 100 villagers, including women and children, in Angul in Odisha when they were peacefully protesting against construction of JSPL steel plant in the district.
Women were stripped and beaten ruthlessly with iron rods. Some of the security men inserted iron rods into the private parts of the women. A 3 year old child was also severely injured in the attack.