India: WHRD arrested for commenting online Government inaction in fatal environmental incidentEvent
- Initial Date
- May 18, 2020
- Event Description
Ms. P Ranganayakamma is a 66-year-old woman human rights defender, writer and critic has written extensively on issues relating to women and social justice. She has written 15 novels, 70 short stories, and many essays, publishing about 60 volumes in all. The main theme of her work isthe issue of gender equality for women. Most of her works have been published either in magazines or daily newspapers and subsequently published in the form of books.On May 7, 2020, styrene, a poisonous gas, leaked from a storage tank at LG Polymers plant at Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. It led to the death of 12 people and affected the health of at least 450 people in Vishakhapatnam and 4 other villages around it. Several of them will face long term health complications. However, no arrests were made by the policefor the killings and causing life threatening health hazards. The South Korean company running the plant has not been held responsible for negligencein any manner whatsoever. In such a scenario, WHRD Ms. Ranganayakamma, wrote 20 questions on her Facebook page questioning the government for their inaction. Immediately after posting the questions, an FIR was filed against Ms. Ranganayakamma by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Andhra Pradesh police under Section 505(2) (making statements that create or promote enmity), 153(A) (indulging in wanton vilification), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 120-Br/w 34 (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code, and also under Section 67 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of IT Act, 2008. On May 18, 2020, Ms. Ranganayakamma was arrested by the CID. The CID told the media that �action would be taken against those who post false comments against the State Government and misguide the public�. The above incident is a clear case of misuse of power by the police officials. The arrest of Ms. Ranganayakamma is an attempt to stop the senior citizen and WHRD from questioning the government and threaten all others from exercising their free expression. This is a clear violation of Article 19 of the Constitution which provides for free speech and power to express oneself to every citizen. The incident which took place has affected the lives of lot of people in the nearby areas and thus as a concerned citizen in a democracy she has the right to ask relevant questions to the government about the steps taken by them for the well-being of the people. By arresting her the state government not only tried to silence the her and other people questioning them but also tried to hide its failure to do any concrete investigation with respect to the gas leak.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Internet freedom
- Right to liberty and security
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 18 May 2020, P Ranganayakamma, WHRD, was arrested by the police for commenting online Government's inaction in fatal environmental incident in Guntur, India.