India: five anti-mining activists arbitrarily arrestedEvent
- Initial Date
- May 1, 2022
- Event Description
About the Human Rights Defender: Mr. Rama Muduli is a member of the Koraput Jan Suraksha Sangh, an organisation that works towards protecting the rights of marginalised communities in Odisha’s Koraput district. Mr. Madan Gunija, Mr. Kamlochan Jani, Mr. Purna Maji, Mr. Sundar Muduli, and Mr. Ramdas Pukia are members of the Harsuku Chinamati Sangh, an organisation devoted to protection of the rights of china clay mining affected people in Odisha’s Koraput district. They work as daily wage labourers and have participated in numerous peaceful protests and demonstrations against mining activities undertaken in violation of existing laws.
Background of the Incident: On the morning of May 1, 2022, residents of Harsuku and neighbouring villages under the Nandpur Police Station in Odisha’s Koraput district approached authorities at the Harsuku China Clay mine. They requested the authorities to suspend mining for 15 days on account of their harvest festival, as traditional customs barred any digging activities during the period. But their request was turned down, and security guards and mining officials allegedly abused and intimidated villagers, which led to heated arguments, pushing and shoving between the two sides. Subsequently, two FIRs about the incident were registered at the Nandpur Police Station.
The first FIR (40/ 2022) was based on a complaint by Mr. Pentapati Lakshman Swamy, leaseholder of the china clay mine, who claimed his staff was violently attacked and kidnapped by villagers. It was registered on May 1, at 9:30 PM, and 67 named accused were charged under Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 294 (obscene acts or words), 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 364A (kidnapping for ransom), 395 (dacoity), 427 (mischief causing damage up to Rs 50), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. The second FIR (41/2022) was based on a complaint by Sub Inspector Bedabara Sahu from the Nandpur Police Station, who claimed villagers attacked and abducted police officials. It was registered on May 2, at 12.15 AM, and named 11 named accused were charged under Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 307 (attempt to murder), 294 (obscene acts or words), 379 (theft), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 149 (unlawful assembly with common intent) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act. It is important to note that well-known HRD Mr. Rama Muduli and several other members of Harsuku Chinamati Sangh were named as accused in FIR no 40/ 2022 although they were not present at the incident spot.
Details of the Incident: On May 2, 2022, Harsuku residents Mr. Purna Maji and Mr. Ramdas Pukiya travelled to the Hikimput residential school to drop off Mr. Pukiya’s six-year-old son, who studied there. When they were near the Budhwar Haat (market) in Nandpur, they were intercepted by 3-4 men in civil dress, who claimed they were policemen and asked for their names and villages. They forcibly detained the two HRDs and the minor child and took them to the Nandpur Police Station. On May 2, 2022, at around 3 PM, when Mr. Madan Gunija was at the Paliba Haat (market) to buy vegetables, he was stopped by two uniformed policemen. The policemen asked him which he was from. Upon hearing that he was a resident of Proja Khudbi village adjacent to Harsuku, they forcibly detained him and took him to the Nandpur Police Station. The same day, when it was almost evening, a team of uniformed policemen raided Harsuku village. They forcibly detained Mr. Sundar Muduli and Mr. Kamlochan Jani, who were sleeping in their houses, and took them to Nandpur Police Station. All five HRDs as well as the minor boy were detained overnight at the Nandpur police station. While the minor was let off the next morning on May 3, the HRDs were shown as arrested under FIR no 41/2022, Nandpur Police Station. They were subsequently taken under remand in FIR no 40/2022, Nandpur police station. It is important to note that none of the HRDs were they present at the site when the altercation pertaining to the two FIRs took place. All five HRDs were granted bail on FIR no 41/2022 on July 16, 2022 and sent to judicial custody in FIR 40/2022 till July 27, 2022. They are currently lodged in Circle Jail, Koraput. Jail authorities have not allowed their families to meet the HRDs despite the relaxation of COVID protocols.
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of expression
- Right to liberty and security
- Freedom of expression
- Community-based HRD
- Environmental rights defender
- Extractive industries
Case shared by FORUM-ASIA member People's Watch
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 1 and 2 May 2022, five environmental defenders member of the local anti-mining organisation Harsuku Chinamati Sangh, were falsely accused of criminal charges by personnel of the china clay mining, following an incident where they were not present, and arrested by the police in Koraput district, Odisha, India.