5000 Rally in Raigarh to Protests Arrests

Live reporting by Bhan Sahu on CGNet Swara (audio in Hindi):

Bhan Sahu is reporting live from a rally in Raigarh in Chhattisgarh where around 5,000 men and women have assembled to protest the arrest of social activists Ramesh Agrawal and Harihar Patel. Both were arrested on 28th May on a complaint of misbehavior by an employee of Jindal steel in a public hearing a year back. Meanwhile high court has rejected their bail application. Bhan says people are expressing their sorrow and anger in the rally and the atmosphere is very charged.

Stop attacking whistle-blowers in Raigarh

Map of India showing location of Chhattisgarh

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Friends,

As many of you know by now Ramesh Agrawal, environmental whistle blower, and Harihar Patel, doctor and sarpanch of Gare Village, *have now completed a month of prison time for crimes they did not commit*. Last week their case was heard in the Bilaspur High Court and, shockingly, they were denied bail—on grounds not having to do with the merit of the case but rather to do with a processing mistake made by the lower court.

It is now time to step up the pressure on authorities, and let them know we will not tolerate this inhumane treatment of whistle blowers by corporate mafia. *Please take a minute and forward the **online petition** to 10 other people in your network. *You can tell them that *Noam Chomsky just signed on*, so they should too!

In Harihar Patel’s village, Gare, about fifty locals, primarily elderly women, have commenced an indefinite dharna (demonstration) in the scorching sun and now in the rain to demand the activists’ immediate release. Please show your solidarity with the struggling Raigarhi people by,* writing a short letter to your editor (200 words or less) about the inhumane activities going on in Raigarh*. After writing the letter, just drop me a line at agarwal.71@osu.edu stating the name of the media outlet you wrote to along with your name.

Finally, we think it is urgent to raise mass awareness about the Raigarh arrests and to expose the atrocities of the Chhattisgarh justice system and its collusion with corporate forces. *Can you or someone else you know host a public meeting in your city* in the coming weeks to discuss these atrocities? Let me know if you would like to do this and I will forward additional resources/contacts to you.

In Solidarity,

Samantha Agarwal (Social Justice Activist, India)

Pranav Jani (Professor, The Ohio State University)

PS — Here’s a recent article about the case and local struggle around it: Hunger strike continues demanding release of RTI activists.

here’s an audio clip from a Raigarh activist on CGNet Swara.