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Harassment, illegal detention and arrest of Sushant Panigrahi under fabricated charges by Odisha Police

Sushant Panigrahi

HRD and Human Rights activists

Bolangir, Odisha

HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on June 17, 2021, regarding the harassment, intimidation, detention, and illegal arrest of Mr. Sushant Panigrahi under fabricated charges by the Odisha Police. Mr. Panigrahi is a human rights activist and a vocal campaigner for the rights of communities affected due to mining and displacement.

Mr. Panigrahi helped Mr. Satya Mahanand, a Dalit resident of Baghjharan village, to file a formal police complaint against harassment and demolition and efforts to grab his land by people close to the local MLA. Mr. Mahanand was had land from the Odisha Government, where he had built a house with a boundary wall. 

The boundary wall was demolished by Mr. Tapindra Suna and his associates with a bulldozer, they also felled the trees without the approval of the Forest department on January 08, 2021, claiming it to be their property.  Mr. Suna is a labour contractor and an associate of the local MLA. The complaints filed by Mr. Mahanand with the help of the HRD were received by the Khaprakhol police but no FIR was registered. 

Mr. Panigrahi was intercepted by Mr. Suna and his 5-6 supporters and was abused and attacked on March 29, 2021. The HRD went to the local Khaprakhol police station and lodged an FIR against the perpetrators. However, a mob led by Mr. Suna came to the police station and started abusing Mr. Panigrahi. The police officials rather than pacifying the mob started questing the HRD that why he went against them and advised the assailants to file fabricated charges against him. Mr. Suna lodged an FIR against the HRD under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. Police officials let him go after the intervention of the Superintendent of Police. He was called by the Khaprakhol Police the next day and was made to sit for 6 hours and was declared arrested without showing him any arrest memo or warrant. He was not even allowed to speak to his lawyer and was sent to judicial custody. He was released on May 03, 2021, after getting bail from Additional District Judicial Magistrate. 

The fabricated charges filed against the HRD for helping to defend the land rights of a poor Dalit is a gross violation of DK Basu guidelines of arrest without arrest memo or access to lawyer or information to his family. 

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