Human Rights Defender
HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on April 12 regarding the arrest and illegal detention of Mr. Nilachal Bhattacharya by the Odisha Police. Mr. Bhattacharya is a member of Communist Party of India (ML) in the Kalahandi district of Odisha. He has also formed a local group, ‘Jangal Adhikar Committee’ (Forest Rights Committee), in the area and the focus has been to fight for the land rights of the poor tribals.
Earlier, in March 2018, Mr. Bhattacharya, along with few others, objected to the construction of a police barrack in the common forest land in M. Rampur village in Odisha. According to sources, the proposal to build the police barrack was done with the support of the District Forest Officer (DFO) and other police officials. Later, villagers belonging to M. Rampur protested against the building of a police barrack in the common forest land.
On March 19, 2018, Mr. Bhattacharya was arrested by the police. It is said that he has been targeted by the police due to the struggle for tribal rights. Initially, the reason for detention was unknown and he was not informed about the charges. It is now known that Mr. Bhattacharya that has been arrested in Case no. CT-276 of 2016 under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 294 (obscene acts or songs), 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation), 506 (criminal intimidation), 149 (unlawful assembly), read with Section 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act and Case no. CT-40 of 2017, under Sections 147 (Rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 294 (obscene acts or songs), 506 (criminal intimidation), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 186 (bbstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 427 (mischief), 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code -- all of which are alleged to be false and fabricated in nature.