Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh, July 29 (IBNS): A Greenpeace mobile phone signal booster was confiscated by local police on Tuesday, along with other communication equipment in Amelia village in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh.
This comes just days after the district collector promised a free and fair Gram Sabha on community consent for Essar and Hindalcos mine, to replace a forged resolution last year. How can we trust the promises of a fair Gram Sabha, when the police cut off communication from the rest of the world, and hold the process behind a curtain? said Priya Pillai, senior campaigner with Greenpeace India and member of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS). After the arrest of four peaceful Van Satyagrahis in May, this is the second glaring instance of the growing police excesses to clamp down on the protest against Essar and Hindalcos proposed coal mining project in the forests of Mahan. Like the recent leaked IB report that attacked civil society groups like Greenpeace, this move further shows that authorities are clamping down on perceived threats to corporate interests, Pillai added. Essar itself has filed two lawsuits in Mumbai and Waidhan, MP asking the courts to stop Greenpeace and the local communities speaking out against the mine project. This is a clear example of how the local police are trying to harass peaceful forest rights activists. We were sent a notice by the police yesterday evening asking us about the mobile booster and the solar panels we had put up in Amelia village. But instead of giving us a chance to respond to the notice, the police shockingly came this morning, confiscating all our basic equipment, which is essential to operate in areas like Mahan which have virtually no electricity and low mobile connectivity, said Pillai. This raid comes less than a month after the Jabalpur High Court directed the SP of Singrauli to conduct an inquiry as to why an FIR was not filed on forged Gram Sabha complaint. The court had acted on a writ petition filed by Pillai and issued an order on June 30, asking the SP to conduct an inquiry within seven days and file an FIR if a cognizable offence is found. The petitioner is to be informed in written about the outcome of the inquiry. This sudden raid raises rather disturbing questions. Is this raid in reaction to our writ petition in the High Court? Why are the local police trying their best to stop the community of Mahan from communicating with the rest of the world, said Hardayal Singh Gond of resident of Amelia village and member of MSS. The police had been dragging their feet in filing the FIR for the forged Gram Sabha case. But when it came to seizing communication equipment or arresting our activists, they wasted no time, he said. MSS and Greenpeace India demanded an explanation for the action taken by the police and declared that such acts cannot not deter them from carrying on their peaceful Van Stayagraha to save the forests of Mahan from the coal mine.