Hypocrisy at its height- Bihar Government arrests social movement activists demanding the rights of Dalits and Adivasis on grounds of violating the code of conduct
New Delhi/6th March (Press Note): More than 5000 people from all across the districts of Bihar, under the collective banner of Jan Mukti Sangharsh Vahini, Parchadhari Sangharsh Vahini, Kosi Nav Nirman Manch, Lok Sangharsh Samiti, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Dalit Shakti Sanghatan and Parivartan Jan Andolan were protesting outside the residence of Mr Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, Bihar. The Adivasi and Dalits protesting peacefully were raising four important demands to the government on implementing the Forest Rights Act 2006; allotting land to lakhs of farmers who have pattas on paper; rehabilitating the Kosi flood victims and families displaced due to the change in the course of the river. They were lathicharged by the Bihar police without any provocation on the morning of March 5, 2014.
The authorities were informed about the protest in advance which led to many not being allowed to go near the CM’s residence, many others who were kept in custody and many were discouraged to bring up the demands of the peoples’ groups.
Around 300 people were kept in custody for hours; nine activists were arrested and sent to Beur Jail, Patna. The SP has given the police version according to which, the arrests have taken place since they violated the code of conduct prescribed by the Election Commission and under Section 144 by protesting outside the Chief Ministers residence. However, the fact is that the Election Commission’s Code of Conduct clearly states that it is applicable only in the case of political parties and candidates and NOT the Social Movements.
The peoples’ movements in Bihar are continuing their protest and another rally was held today, March 6, 2014 in the afternoon where five more people were arrested and released only later in the evening on the basis of a personal bond.
There was a simultaneous protest in Delhi outside the Bihar Bhawan where more than 50 members of the civil society, activists, people from different organizations, various individuals and student groups came together and expressed not just their disappointment but the state of shock that the Nitish Kumar government has left them in and that too on the eve of the general elections. They submitted the memorandum to the cabinet through the Resident Commissioner’s Office who was busy in a high level meeting.
The Nitish Kumar government is on the one hand asking for special status for Bihar and including the implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 in the manifesto of the Party; but on the other hand is showing extreme intolerance towards the people of Bihar, who are demanding for their constitutional rights.
We demand unconditional release of the nine activists arrested, immediately.
We demand that the government responds to the legitimate demands of the people’s movements.
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