Many people on social media are sharing posts claiming that Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti activist Kuni Sikaka has been arrested. People are sharing two images claiming to be of Kunni Sikaka and of her recent arrest.
One of the posts claims, "Kuni Sikaka, who challenged Vedanta group in constitutional ways and is fighting for many years to save the Niyamgiri mountain, is arrested. Are those who are trying to save the land, forest and environment, guilty in the eyes of the law?"
The post is viral on Facebook.
Twitterati also shared the claim.
A website Santal Khabar also reported about the arrest of Kuni Sikaka on February 25, 2021.
Kuni Sikaka has recently been arrested by police.
The Logical Indian searched and found no such information about the arrest of Kuni Sikaka in the recent past. However, we found multiple media reports from May 2017, which reported the arrest of Kuni Sikaka by Odisha police.
According to a report by Scroll.in published on May 2, 2019, police claimed that they arrested 20-year-old Kuni Sikaka from Gorta village atop the Niyamgiri Hills on May 2, as her name figured in the lists of Maoists prepared for 2017. The Rayagada police had then portrayed Sikaka, her father-in-law, husband and three other relatives as surrendered Maoists. According to the same report, Kuni Sikaka and other arrested were later released after taking an undertaking that they will not indulge in any Maoist activities.
The Logical Indian checked both the viral images.
Image 1: The image claims to be of Kuni Sikaka.
The Logical Indian did a reverse image search and found that the same image was published on Survival International.org, an international website that reports about the atrocities against tribals globally. The report was published on June 29, 2017, and carried the viral image with the caption identifying the lady as Kuni Sikaka. The story was about the custodial death of Bari Pidikaka, a Dongria activist and the arrest of Kuni Sikaka. Hence Image 1 is of Kuni Sikaka.
Image 2: The photo is of a press conference held by police with a tribal girl standing in the back, claiming it is of the recent arrest of Kuni Sikaka.
Image 2 is also present on the website, and it was published on June 28, 2017. The image was captioned, " Since resisting Vedanta's plan to mine their land, many Dongria, including Drimbilli (pictured here) and Kuni, are being systematically arrested and accused of being Maoist guerrillas." Hence, image 2 is also old.
The Logical Indian spoke to a journalist of Sangharsh Samvad, a magazine that closely reports all the protests in the nation. The journalist denied the arrest of Kuni Sikaka. According to the journalist, "No recent arrest has been made in relation to the revolts done by Tribals in Odisha."
We also contacted Shanti Snigdha, an activist working with Jan Pehal and is closely associated with Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti who confirmed that the news is old and Kuni Sikaka has not been arrested recently. Snigdha also told us that there are two recent arrests, but both the accused are arrested under murder charges and not due to the protest.
Hence, old news has resurfaced to claim that the police has recently arrested Kuni Sikaka.
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