People’s Union For Democratic Rights Condemns Arrest of Assam Activist

The People’s Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR), a national rights organisation based in New Delhi, strongly condemned arrest of an activist in Assam saying that it is an attempt of the government to intimidate the anti-dam popular movement into silence and submission.

Activist Mr Pallab Barbora was arrested from his home in Merapani of Golaghat district in Assam on 3 June 2012 and has been remanded to ten days custody of National Investigative Agency (NIA) on 6 June. The NIA alleged that he had facilitated the spread of Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the state. The CPI (M) party is an organization banned by the Indian government. Security agencies also alleged that he was advocating for the intensification of the popular anti-mega-dam movement in Assam.

On the contrary, the PUDR claimed that Mr Barbora was actively involved in numerous forums over the years highlighting issues of violation of rights. He was a long associate of the Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS), an Assam-based human rights body. Recently he was active in the anti-mega-dams movement led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and others. It is a commonplace for every keen observer of the movement against mega-dam that Mr Barbora was instrumental in forming the Mega Dam Resistance Forum, according the PUDR.

The rights body also said that giving out two statements by the security agencies in such a manner that one claimed him to be a kingpin of maoist activities in Assam and the then saying that he is instrumental in anti-dam movements has an effect of making the activities of organizing a democratic protest look illegal and illegitimate, because he is already charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and various other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“The Government, in order to forcefully pursue its corporate led development policy, is using police and other para-military forces to silence the democratically organized protests. The organisers of such protest movements are regularly being framed in the most draconian laws so that the anti people projects could be implemented to protect the interest of the big corporate. The government is regularly projecting these organisers as ‘terrorists’ or ‘Maoists’ by citing strange and unverifiable ‘intelligence’/’police’ sources. By invoking UAPA and by using the stick of association with ‘banned’ organisation it has become easy for authorities to damn people’s protest. Even the judicial process is being used to intern them indefinitely in the prison and thus silence their voice of descent. Therefore, arrest of Pallab Barbora is obviously an attempt to intimidate the anti-dam popular movement into silence and submission” the PUDR said in a release signed by its secretaries Mr Paramjeet Singh and Ms Preeti Chauhan.