Binayak Sen granted bail: A battle half won

Finally, we have got some justice after a long struggle. Dr Binayak Sen was granted bail today, more than two years after his unjust incarceration. The SC vacation Bench headed by Markandeya Katju did not even allow the Chhattisgarh Counsel to raise an objection and granted bail within one minute of taking up the case. One should remember that CG state had not heeded to the SC’s earlier request to file the reasons for objecting his bail.

While it is a great victory to justice, the state by keeping Dr. Sen in jail for over two years has succeeded in its attempts to at least partially silence all those who were raising their voice against Salwa Judum. Nevertheless, it is great news that finally the efforts of all those who fought, participated in the Raipur Satyagraha, and their supporters have succeeded. Our heartiest congratulations to all the silent warriors who made this possible.

In solidarity,
Neeraj Jain

Press release, 20th May 09

Chhattisgarh Govt. on Rampage!

After Binayak Sen, now it’s the Gandhian Vanvasi Chetna Ashram being attacked by the Chhattisgarh Govt. which literally bulldozed this Ashram on May 17, 2009. We condemn this demolition of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA). Established by Himanshu, a follower of Vinoba Bhave, the VCA which is at Kawalnar, about 11 kilometres from Dantewada.has been in the forefront of rehabilitating adivasis in Dantewada who had been displaced due the state supported Salwa Judum and the Maoists. VCA was consistent in its demand for a peaceful solution to the conflict in South Bastar and was persuading the villagers to come back to their villages. VCA had rehabilitated villagers from more than 15 affected villages. The Maoists also disapproved VCA actions resulting in him and his team being held hostage by Maoists last year.

The Vanvasi Chetna Ashram has been the voice of sanity and peace in Dantewada, led by the Gandhian Himanshu and consistently exposing the atrocities by Salwa Judum, while keeping a distance from the Maoists. A staunch believer in non-violence, Himanshu exposed the fake encounters of 12 innocent adivasis, who were killed by the police on March 30, 2009 and filed a case in the Bilaspur High Court. It is evident that the police and administration have made VCA their target to destroy their base and all resources which were instrumental in their work. It is also clear that the Chhattisgarh government does not want villagers to return to their villages, though it has been directed by the Supreme Court. It wants to use the deserted farmlands for corporate purpose.

Angered by VCA’s consistent commitment towards the people’s welfare, the local administration using the pretext of VCA being constructed on revenue forest land, issued an eviction notice in December 2007, which VCA had challenged in the Appeal court. According to VCA the ashram had been constructed on common land of Kawalnar village after the village panchayat passed a resolution way back in 1993.

The mala fide of the administration is clear from the fact that VCA received the eviction notice dated May 13 2009, on May 16, asking them to vacate within 5 days, i.e. by May 17 and on the following day in the early hours of May 17, the VCA was demolished. Having cordoned off the area, the SDM, Mr Ankit Anand, then informed Himanshuji (at 7 am) that he and his family and staff had one hour to remove all their personal belongings, official papers, etc. At 8 am around 4-5 bulldozers began rolling into the Ashram premises and within the next few hours they had razed the entire campus (including training halls, staff quarters, the main office building, and residential area) to the ground not even sparing the tubewells and an open well which had been constructed by the Government. The boundary fence of the Ashram, the boards on the road leading to the Ashram, were also twisted and uprooted. All this continued for four hours.

We demand that VCA be restored at the expense of the state.

R. P. Nene (24454909)
Dr. Abhay Shukla ( 9422317515)
Dr. Anant Phadke (9423531478)
Milind Chavan (9890025565)
Dr. Suhas Kolhekar, (9422986771
Neeraj Jain (9422220311)

‘Release Dr. Binayak Sen Committee’- Pune
C/o. Milind Chavan, Flat No. 306, Kamal paradise, Sukhasagar nagar No. 2, Katraj,
Pune-411 046, Ph. No.9890025565

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