Niyamgiri activist Lingraj Azad arrested in Odisha

Bhubhaneshwar, March 7, Lingraj Azad, activist and adviser to Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, was arrested by the police in Kalahandi on Wednesday.

Azad is also the national vice president of Samajwadi Jan Parishad and national convener of National Alliance of People’s Movements. His arrest was confirmed by Kalahandi Superintendent of Police Battula Gangadhar.

Eminent academicians, jurists, political thinkers and socialist leaders gathered at the 2nd Rabi Ray Memorial Lecture condemned his arrest and the charges of Sedition slapped on him by Odisha Government.

Prof Manoranjan Mohanty moving the resolution of condemnation said that how shameful it is that BJD government has charged one of the socialist and democratic leaders of the movement with Sedition. “The intolerance and brazen attack on rights of association and freedom are being trampled upon by this government and in case of Odisha they are suffering under the misrule of State and Central government both who have least regards for socialist and democratic values,” they said.

The condemnation resolution was passed by everyone present there, including Prafulla Samantara, Dr Anand Kumar, Sumit Chakravarty, Dr Sunilam, Arun Shrivastava, Vijayan Mj, Sanjeev Kumar, Madhuresh Kumar, Vijay Pratap and many others.

The meeting also demanded an immediate and unconditional release of Lingraj Azad and called it completely illegal.

NAPM (National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements) also condemned the illegal and deceitful arrest of Lingraj Azad. Azad had earlier successfully fought against Vedanta corporation along with Dongria Kondh.

“Initially it was reported that he has been arrested in an old case but just now we have learnt that sedition charges have also been slapped against him. Arrests and attacks are not new to him in nearly three decades of his activism. He has faced physical attacks and harassment from the State for his struggle against the systemic oppression and corporate loot of the natural resources. We condemn this brazen attack and arrest by Odisha government just before elections and planned morcha in Bhubaneswar on March 11 and on the continued violations of rights in Niyamgiri hills,” NAPM in its statement said.

Mr. Gangadhar told The Hindu that a police team from Bijepur arrested the rights activist from Kesinga police station area of the district in a case relating to a protest demonstration outside the India Reserve Battalion camp at Trilochanpur village last month.

“Activist Prafulla Samantara, who has been involved in the agitation against proposed bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills, however, claimed that the villagers were opposing the IRB camp since the security personnel had occupied their gram panchayat office without the consent of its office-bearers,” The Hindu reported.

Source: Sabrang India

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