UP: After Meeting The Forest Minister, Two Adivasi Women Fighting For Forest Rights Gone Untraceable
Two Adivasi forest rights leaders belonging to the All-India Union of Forest Working Peoples (AIUFWP), Sukalo Gond and Kismatiya Gond have reportedly gone “untraceable” since July 8. The Uttar Pradesh police claim that both the women were arrested on July 8 while they were protesting and were released on the same day.
To get the details of the case, The Logical Indian spoke to Roma, a social activist and Dy. Gen Sec, All India Union of Forest Working People(AIUFWP), who is carefully observing the details of the case.
According to Roma, the two women belonging to the Sonbhadra district were picked up by the police on July 8, from the Chopan station in Uttar Pradesh. “The arrest was made in a clandestine manner. The police without any warrant and any female cop with them stopped these people at the railway station and after some altercation detained both the women,” said Roma.
Roma also told us, that the arrest was made when they were returning after a meeting with the state forest minister, Dara Singh Chauhan, in Lucknow. The meeting was regarding the claims for the forest land that the villagers are fighting for last many years. “The minister was informed that how the forest land is illegally taken over by some local ‘goons’. The letter also mentioned that the police is not taking any actions against the accused, instead, it is bullying the villagers for protesting against it, ” added Roma.
The illegal arrest
“The police was upset that we went to the minister’s office to complain about police inaction and that is why to threaten the villagers the police made the arrest,” told Roma. After the arrest, the police did not let the family or the lawyers meet the women. The AIUFWP filed a Habeas Corpus petition on July 9 in the Allahabad High Court.
The copy of the Habeus Corpus Writ PetitionHabeas Corpus is a writ petition requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.
According to the petitioners, at first the government made efforts to get the hearing postponed, but later the police not just failed to produce the two women in the court but also made shocking claims. It informed the court that both the women were only given a challan under Section 151 of IPC and were also released the same day.
The Police’s version
When The Logical Indian got in touch with SP Sonbhadra, he confirmed the arrest was made on July 8. However, he said that the case is ongoing and he is presently at the courthouse regarding the same. Any further questions regarding the whereabouts of the two Adivasi leaders went unanswered.
According to the lawyers and the petitioners, no details for the challans were provided. “Even If the police did release both the women they should have at least provided details of their apparent release,” told the activist. The lawyer has demanded in the court that the release of both the woman should be put on an affidavit, as “they are not traceable for over a month after their arrests on June 8. Roma also told us that the F.I.R copy that was later produced by the police did not mention Sukalo’s name.
Renowned activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and AIUFWP moved the court seeking the “immediate production and release of illegally detained” Adivasi women leaders Sukalo and Kismatiya.
Appeal to the NHRC
Roma told The Logical Indian that this is not the first time the police has illegally made arrests. “The Adivasi of the village have been repeatedly harassed by the police. The police detain these innocent villagers on fake charges. First, on May 18, the Uttar Pradesh police detained Adivasis from Lilasi village and made them go through harrowing procedures for about a day. Later, on May 22, they entered the village, completely unwarranted and assaulted women and children, in which Kismatiya sustained severe injuries.” she added.
The tribal people have been fighting for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.