India: anti-mining activists temporarily arrested, charged over peaceful protestEvent
- Initial Date
- Oct 29, 2021
- Event Description
The police on Friday detained tribal leaders and sent back people who were staging a sit-in protest against a mining project at Surjagarh in Etapalli tehsil of Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district. Since the last five days, locals in the area have been staging a dharna against the iron ore mining project in Surjagarh, demanding cancellation of the lease granted to a private company.
According to the police, the locals were given permission to hold a morcha and not a sit-in agitation.
Local tribals along with Zilla Parishad member Sainu Gota and member of Shetkari Kamgar Paksh Ramdas Jarate had launched an indefinite sit-in protest under the aegis of 'Surjagarh Paramparik Ilaka Gotul Samiti' on Monday.
Speaking to PTI, Gadchiroli superintendent of police Ankit Goyal said some leaders at the dharna were detained and people were requested to leave and they left.
"They were given permission for a morcha and not a dharna. However, they had been staging a dharna for the last four to five days. The police and district collector visited the spot and requested protestors to withdraw the agitation," the official said.
Background of the Incident: Local Adivasi communities in Gadchiroli have been fiercely opposing the 25 government sanctioned mines in Gadchiroli, which includes the mine at Surjagad. The Adivasi communities state that the decision to grant mining licenses is illegal as the gram sabhas in the region have not given the permission for the same. On October 25, 2021, there was a peaceful morcha carried out against the mining leases and had nearly 4,000 protestors from local Adivasi villages. The morcha ended at Etapalli, where several protestors camped. Details of the Incident: On October 29, 2021, at around 5.45 a.m. a large police force, of around 300 police personnel, some in uniform and some in plain clothes, swooped down at the protest sites and detained Mr. Sainu Gota, Ms. Sheela Gota, Mr. Ramdas Jarate, Ms. Jaishree Velda, Mr. Nitin Pada and Mr. Amol Marakwar. They were put in vans and taken to a police camp in Aheri. They were not even allowed to wear chappals and had to walk barefoot until they were presented before the judicial magistrate. Mr. Jarate was not allowed to wear clothes and was taken to the police camp in his shorts and half shirt that he had been wearing when the raid happened. No paperwork was given to any of them for either detention or arrest. At Aheri police camp, they were made to sit in a separate room until 1 p.m. like criminals. Thereafter, each one of them were called by Mr. Anuj Tare, Additional Superintendent of Police, who asked them what they are planning to do next. On October 29, 2021, at around 4 p.m., they were taken to Aheri police station and were formally charged. An FIR (0036/2021) was registered at the Etapalli police station against nine HRDs and 100 unnamed individuals under Indian Penal Code sections 188 (Disobedience) and 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), Section 2 of Epidemics Act which gives power to state government to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease and the Maharashtra Police Act sections 37 (1), 37 (3), 135. The FIR has named Mr. Sainu Gota, Ms. Sheela Gota, Ramdas Jarate, Ms. Jaishree Velda, Nitin Pada, Amol Marakwar, Mr. Lalsu Nagoti, Mr. Prajwal Namulwar, Ms. Premila Kulyami. At 5.30 p.m. they were taken to the district court and were granted bail. Their lawyers were present at the court, but they were not allowed to speak with them at any time prior to this. At 6.15 p.m. they were taken to back to the police camp, even after being granted bail where they were held stating that they were being issued a notice by the sub-divisional magistrate of Etapalli. At 9.15 p.m. they were issued a notice under section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which provides powers to an executive magistrate if he is convinced that individuals are likely to commit a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquility to ask individuals to show cause as to why they should not execute a bond. After the notice was issued, they were released. During their illegal detention and arrest, Inspector Patil of Etapalli police station, confiscated two phones belonging to Mr. Jarate and Ms. Velda. On October 30, 2021, Mr. Jarate called Mr. Patil and asked him to return the mobile phone. In response, Mr. Patil said that he had not taken the mobile phone. The phones were later found in the same police station and returned to Mr. Jarate a few days later.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of expression
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to Protest
- Environmental rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 29 October 2021, Mr. Sainu Gota, Ms. Sheela Gota, Mr. Ramdas Jarate, and Ms. Jaishree Velda, environmental defenders, were taken to a police station, charged and temporarily arrested for organising a peaceful anti-mining protest the days before in Gadchiroli, India.