14, Aug 2018 | Sushmita
A campaign by CJP and All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) for the release of dynamic forest rights movement leaders Sukalo Gond and Kismatiya Gond is gaining momentum every day. Now, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has tweeted expressing concern over their illegal arrest by Uttar Pradesh (UP) government and has appealed to Congress leaders and MLAs in the state to take up and raise the matter very seriously.
This one tweet has helped draw attention to the issue of their illegal arrests once again.
CJP has been closely following how Adivasi women of Sonbhadra, UP, who are a part of a peaceful struggle for land rights, are being systematically bullied and harassed. Many of them have fake cases filed against them on false or trumped up charges. CJP stands with the AIUFWP in their demand for the immediate implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Support these brave women, who are determined to get their rights despite hailing from oppressed, vulnerable and marginalised communities, by donating here.
Not to be left behind, the Samajwadi Party (SP) too expressed support for the movement. SP spokesperson Rajesh Chaudhary issued a statement saying that the party’s National President and former Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav has met a committee from AIUFWP under the leadership of the MLA Sanjay Garg and taken cognisance of the constant police violence being faced by the villagers in the Sonebhadra area.
Kismatiya Gond (Secretary, Forest Rights Committee), Sukalo Gond (Treasurer of AIUFWP) and Sukhdev Gond were picked up in a clandestine manner from Chopan railway station by the Sonbhadra police on June 8, 2018. They were arrested just as they were returning after a meeting with the state forest minister, Dara Singh Chauhan and the Forest Secretary in Lucknow in which the minister had assured that he would look into the matter of previous police assaults on Lilasi villagers in connivance with the Forest Department.
CJP, with the AIUFWP had moved the Allahabad High Court seeking the immediate production and release of the illegally detained Adivasi women leaders, Sukalo Gond and Kismatiya Gond.
Earlier, on May 18 the UP police picked up and detained Adivasis from Lilasi, kept them for the entire day at Myorpur thana and made them go through harrowing procedures for the rest of the day. Later, on May 22, they entered the village, and engaged in a completely unwarranted assault on women and children, in which Kismatiya Gond had sustained severe head injuries. Bulk FIRs were filed against the villagers on the pretext of an “afforestation project,” the details of which wasn’t known to anybody! Even though Sukalo wasn’t present during the episodes of assaults by the police, and her name was nowhere mentioned in the FIRs, she was arrested.
On AIUFWP and CJP’s intervention, the NHRC had issued notifications to the DM of Sonbhadra to look into the violent onslaught of UP police and forest department. However, the feudal nexus of the Government, the forest department and big landholders is carrying on its oppressive onslaught with impunity.