Condemning the arrest of woman tribal-activist and journalist Dayamani Barla in Jharkhand, rights activists have demanded that the "false cases" against her be dropped and that she be immediately released.
The police have reopened an earlier case registered in 2006, when she spent fourteen days in Judicial Custody, after being charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.
She was arrested again this month , and when granted bail on 19th October by a local court of Ranchi, was immediately arrested in a new case, the details of which the Jail authorities refuse to disclose due to ‘technical reasons’. On October 29, she was once again denied bail and remains in prison as of now.
Members of Indian and international organisations said the reason for this incarceration is to intimidate Barla, who is one of the leaders of the peaceful struggle of people against the acquisition of fertile land at Nagri, a village situated near Ranchi for setting up a law university and an Indian Institute of Management (IIM).
This is not an isolated case, but part of a larger series of intimidation tactics used by the State to silence peaceful, democratic protest by people asking for their rights and exercising their civil liberties.
Meanwhile, tribals opposed to the acquisition of over 200 acres of farmland in Nagri village are agitating at the site.
They were enraged with Wednesday\\\’s Jharkhand High Court verdict that the authorities speed up construction work at the site and use paramilitary forces to maintain order. The court also warned of contempt proceedings if its verdict was not implemented.
The members of Association for India\\\’s Development, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, People\\\’s Union for Civil Liberties, International Alliance for the Defence of Human Rights in India and others demanded her release.
Here is the full statement:
We, the undersigned organisations, strongly condemn the unjust incarceration of journalist and human rights activist Dayamani Barla, and demand that the false cases against her be dropped and that she be released immediately. Barla was granted bail by a local court in Ranchi on October 18th, in a case related to a protest held on 25th April, 2006, demanding job cards for rural laborers under the Rural Employment Guarantee Act. However, on the day that she was supposed to be released, jail authorities announced that she had been re-arrested on a second warrant, for "obstructing government work" . We learnt that on October 29th, Barla was denied bail and remains imprisoned.
We believe the reason for this incarceration is to intimidate Dayamani Barla, who is one of the leaders of the peaceful and resolute struggle of villagers against the acquisition of fertile land at Nagri, a village situated at few kilometers from the state capital, where the government wants to build IIM, IIT and National Law School campuses. As per some estimates, at least 500 tribal families will be displaced and their livelihoods will be destroyed if the land is acquired for said institutions , In January, the state bulldozed farms just when the winter crops, mostly potatoes and pulses, were to be harvested. Following that, the police filed FIRs against 12 villagers . We find the Government of Jharkhand\\\’s indifferent and unjust response to this peaceful struggle appalling- some of the protesters have even expressed support for the institutions to be built, just not at the cost of the main source of villagers\\\’ livelihood .
Dayamani Barla is one of the leading anti-displacement activists fighting illegal land-grab by by corporations and the government alike in various parts of Jharkhand and other parts of India. Known as the "Iron Lady of Jharkhand," she is one of the national conveners of the National Alliance of People\\\’s Movements (NAPM), along with Medha Patkar and others and an Executive Committee Member of the India Social Action Forum (INSAF). She is also one of the leading voices of the Adivasi community.
Association for India’s Development
Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
India Friends Association
Indian Social Action Forum
International Alliance for the Defense of Human Rights in India
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
Mining Zone People Solidarity Group
Moving Republic, Bangalore
Our Developing World
People\\\’s Solidarity Concerns, Bangalore
ViBGYOR Film Collective, Thrissur