NGO condemns arrest of human rights activists, demands immediate release

GUWAHATI, Apr 16: Assam-based human rights NGO, Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS), expressed dismay over the Supreme Court’s recent direction asking civil rights activists Gautam Mavalakha and Anand Teltumbe to surrender by 14 April, in connection with Bhima Korgoan case.
Both the activists had been implicated in the Bhima Korgoan case of 2013, “where many Dalit activists were hurt in rioting by upper caste mobs supported by powerful local politicians,” the MASS stated in a release.
“The subsequent arrest of civil rights activists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, following the SC’s direction, bears testimony to the dubious processes that were followed in order to implicate persons fighting for social justice in India,” the MASS said.
It demanded withdrawal of the arrest order against the two eminent civil rights activists, and expressed confidence that “due legal process will show that the cases against them are absurd and part of a political vendetta.”
The MASS said both the activists had consistency opposed state violence and were part of the campaign against draconian laws like the Armed forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. It said the activists have been “exemplary figures of commitment and determination in the fight against social injustice of oppressed people, as well as the issue of autonomy for indigenous communities across the northeastern region.”
Denouncing the charges levelled against the two as “examples of the government’s high-handedness,” the MASS said the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act have increasingly been used to silence dissenting India.
The NGO also said that at a time when the government has to take bold steps to fight a pandemic, “the unjust and unwarranted arrest of Akhil Gogoi and other activists of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti in Assam is further evidence of the kind of dangerous expansion of authoritarianism in the subcontinent.”
It said Mavalakha and Teltumbe have to remain in their homes until the legal process finds its logical end, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.