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Arrest of Deme Oram and other land and environment under fabricated charges

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Deme Oram and others 

Land and environment HRDs 

Odisha 

Mr. Deme Oram, Mr. Samra Ekka, Mr. Mahadev Barla, Mr. Sukra Oram, Mr. Fagu Ekka, Mr. Budhua Lakra and others are members of the Anchalika Surakshya Committee, Bondamunda, and have been holding peaceful protests the displacement of around 700 Adivasi families in and around Bondamunda in Sundargarh. A key point of their struggles has been the implementation of recommendations by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in 2018 and 2019, which had recommended immediate rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced people and barred further displacement and construction activities in the area. 

In March 2022, the Odisha government commenced work on the construction of a road overbridge at the Kukuda Gate Railway Crossing in Rourkela district without implementing any of the NCST recommendations. 

To protest this, Mr. Deme Oram and other members of the Anchalika Surakshya Committee began an indefinite, peaceful demonstration near Kukuda Gate from March 16. They erected a makeshift tent beside the road but did not prevent workers from carrying on construction activities or entering any altercation with them. The same day the police registered an FIR was registered against Mr. Oram and 50 unnamed others at the Bisra Police Station and detained several protestors from the site. Protestors were released after being forced to sign personal bonds stating that they would not participate in any protests. 

On March 28, the HRDs began a road blockade near the railway crossing as the roadside demonstration failed to elicit the intervention of higher authorities. The same day, another FIR was registered at the Bisra Police Station against Mr. Oram and others for rioting, assault, or criminal force to deter public servants and attempt to murder. 

Around 2 pm, a large police force including women personnel forcefully detained around 200 protestors including Mr. Oram from the protest site and took them to a stadium in Rourkela city. Police later released most detainees but arrested 21 leaders of the movement without showing any arrest warrant or informing of the charges. They were detained at the Bisra Police Station and later produced in court, which granted them 15 days of judicial remand.

The arrest of land and environment HRDs is abuse and overreach of the law and violates the fundamental rights to life, liberty and the free assembly and expression guaranteed in the constitution.

HRDA has sent an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission to direct the Director-General of Police, Odisha, to initiate an independent inquiry into the fabricated charges against HRDs and their illegal and arbitrary detention. 

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