Withdraw vindictive cases against Dr. Sunilam, punish the guilty
Rehabilitate Pardhi community and ensure justice and dignified livelihood to them
New Delhi, April 23 : The CBI in late March filed challan against 82 people including Dr. Sunilam in the CBI Court (Jabalpur) in an old case of eviction, burning of the houses of the Pardhi community, a denotified tribe, in Chothia Village, Multai, M.P. on September 11, 2007 by locals including politicians in the presence of the police and administration. The charge-sheet surprisingly leaves the names of the police and civil administration officials who were present at the scene of violence since morning that day. Dr. Sunilam, then MLA from Multai reached the venue at 12 noon nearly after 5 hours of the incident, even then he is charged with participation in the crime. We feel it is a vindictive move on part of the corrupt nexus between bureaucracy, political forces and the administration whose political and economic interests are being hurt due to Kisan Sangharsh Samiti’s (KSS) active opposition to the Adani Thermal Power Plant and Pench Water Diversion Project in Chindwara District. In May 2011, Dr. Sunilam, Advocate Aradhana Bharagava and other members of KSS were attacked by the goons of Adani, where he sustained severe injuries and many of the villagers were later arrested without any charges on the attackers. We demand that these strict action against these incidents after thorough investigation rather than harassing the members of KSS.
The resistance in Chindwara is against the vested interests of the state government and elected representatives from the region, so every attempt is being made to implicate the KSS leadership in other cases and this seems to be the reason for implicating Dr. Sunilam in this case too. It remains to be noted that after the police firing on farmers in Multai on January 1998 in which 24 farmers were killed and many injured, 67 cases were slapped on Dr. Sunilam. Till today hearings in nearly 16 cases are ongoing and in the rest he has been exonerated by the court or police has withdrawn the case after they could not produce sufficient evidence.
We believe the cases of the violence against Pardhi Community must be investigated and culprits be put behind bars but in the name of seeking justice for a denotified tribal community, villagers and those not involved in the crime should not be harassed. It will only serve the interests of the capital and regressive elements conspiring to take away the land water and forests in the name of development and securing power and irrigation and break the resistance. There have been allegations of the involvement of the Pardhi community in criminal activities and necessary action should be taken against them as per law. However, it is unfair and highly unjust that the whole community was targeted and the administration connived in perpetrating the crime. It is also unfortunate that the evicted families have not been rehabilitated yet and they continue to live in camps bearing the stigma of being a criminal tribe. We demand that the Government of Madhya Pradesh rehabilitates them at the earliest and help them lead a dignified life and livelihood.
We have known Dr. Sunilam for years and stand in solidarity with Dr. Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, a socialist, at the forefront of the resistance against the corporate takeover of natural resources and someone who has always fought for the rights of the landless peasants, farmers and adivasis. We are sure the truth will come out soon and he will be exonerated of the false charges and allegations against him in the ongoing case.
Medha Patkar, Gabriele Dietrich, Prafulla Samantara, Sandeep Pandey, Roma, Suniti S R, Anand Mazgaonkar, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishnan Raju, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Geetha Ramakrishnan, R Leelavathy, Bhupendera Singh Rawat, Vimal Bhai, Mukta Srivastava, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar