Rights

PM's Rural Development Fellows Come Out in Support of Mahesh Raut

We see this hasty police action as the Maharashtra government’s response to increasing exertion of oppressed class against sustained caste atrocities in the state, said a statement.

New Delhi: About 80 former fellows of the Prime Minister’s Rural Development programme, as well as former rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, have come out in support of Mahesh Raut.

Raut was arrested from Pune, along with four others, in connection with the violence following an event to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on December 31 in Maharashtra. He was awarded a fellowship under the PM’s Rural Development plan in Gadchiroli district,

In addition to being one of the convenors of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vilas Andolan, a national organisation that fights the displacement of marginalised communities, and Raut is a member of the Bharat Jan Andolan, a human rights NGO.

“For whatever it is worth, I associate myself fully and wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in the attached statement, ” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in support of Raut.

Read the full statement below.

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On June 6, 2018, the Pune Police arrested Mahesh Raut, a former colleague of ours from his residence in Nagpur. He has been one of the best performing Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows (PMRDFs) who served in Gadchiroli district (a conflict area district) for two years in close coordination with the district administration. His arrest and house-search have been purportedly made under the FIR registered on 8th January 2018 at Vishram Baug Police Station, Pune with regard to the holding of Elgar Parishad on 31st December 2017 by the Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan. This FIR, originally registered u/s 153(A), 505 (1)(b), 117 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), was made into a conspiracy case in March 2018 and now has sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) added to it. Mahesh’s arrest has thus been made under UAPA, which has several stringent provisions, which ensure long detention, and makes it difficult to obtain bail.

Mahesh comes from a very humble background and has done his Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. His commitment to public good and social welfare above personal gains has always secured him respect and adoration amongst his peers and community. It is because of his tiring efforts in driving social change in conflict areas, at this young age, he has been suffering from swollen liver and digestive issues. His health condition deteriorated early this year and on medical advice, he moved to Nagpur from Gadchiroli. The consulting doctor also advised him to be on liquid diet.

To put matters into perspective, Mahesh has neither attended the Pune Elgar Parishad nor was part of the organising committee. So it’s a pertinent question to ask how Mahesh has been named as an accused in this case. Neither was he named in the primary charge sheet nor was there any order from the competent court to search his premises. All the action against Mahesh is solely based on a complaint from a private individual. Since 2013, the police has constantly harassed Mahesh and recently they also confiscated his passport as well.

Raids on his house and detention had become very common for him in last few months because of his tireless work with Bharat Jan Andolan, an organisation started by late B.D Sharma (IAS). Mahesh has been instrumental in mobilizing people for participative decision making in areas affected by mining projectsand has been constantly raising voice for the people’s welfare. His work on PESA and FRA has been noteworthy and acclaimed by then District Collectors and State departments under Government of Maharashtra. Moreover, he was actively involved in the process of deepening democracy through strengthening Gram Sabhas in the tribal areas. How can a person working to deepen democracy be ‘anti-state’ as claimed by state security agencies? Development often means taking sides of people and taking collective action for people’s betterment within the ambit of law and constitution.

We strongly believe that the recent arrest of Mr. Mahesh Raut under UAPA by Government of Maharashtra has been done haphazardly and wrongfully on many accounts. We see this hasty police action as the State Government’s response to increasing exertion of oppressed class against sustained caste atrocities in the state. This act would definitely be seen as an atrocity by the State on the larger mass of people who have reposed their faith on young change agents. We are proud of Mahesh’s contributions to work towards raising and consolidating voices of the least heard population of our country; therefore, we strongly condemn the arrest of Mr. Raut.

In this regard, we as former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows under the aegis of Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, appeal and demand that: a. UAPA charges against Mr. Mahesh Raut are dropped and he be immediately and unconditionally released. b.Mr Mahesh Rout be provided with immediate medical attention given his ill health c. Stop harassment of social activists and development professionals like Mahesh without following due process of law and principles of justice as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

This petition is supported in its spirit by the undersigned former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows as on June 8, 2018:

1. Arindam Banerjee, West Midnapore, West Bengal
2. Yatin Diwakar, Narayanpur, Chhattisgarh
3. Priyanka Yadav, Kanker, Chhattisgarh
4. Pramod Kalekar, Kabirdham, Chhattisgarh
5. Vijay Tate, Gondia, Maharashtra
6. Ramashis Rajak, Simdega, Jharkhand
7. Shashi K. Verma, Simdega, Jharkhand
8. Kumar Manish, Umaria, Madhya Pradesh
9. Ajitendra Kumar, Sukma, Chhattisgarh
10. Shikha Singh, Sukma, Chhattisgarh
11. Priya Tayde, Gadchirol,i Maharashtra
12. Annu Singh, Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh
13. Rajeev Kumar Ranjan, East Singhbhum, Jharkhand
14. Prakash Sahoo, Gajapati, Odisha
15. Prathima Nalabolu, Khammam, Telangana
16. Satish Tajne, Sarguja, Chhattisgarh
17. Ankush Singh, Munge,r Bihar
18. Ashwin Prasad, Koderma, Jharkhand
19. Amrita Dhiman, Gaya, Bihar
20. Anand P.K., Jehanabad, Bihar
21. Deepak Kumar, Nawada, Bihar
22. Neeraja Kudrimoti ,Bijapur, Chhattisgarh
23. Shravan Jha, Jamui, Bihar
24. Nilmadhab Digal, Keonjhar Odisha
25. Kuldip Gyaneshwar Korapu,t Odisha
26. Raj kumar Gupta, Balangir, Odisha
27. Suresh Ghattamaneni, Khammam, Telangana
28. Amit kr. Valmiki, Bokaro, Jharkhand
29. Kshovan Guha, Gaya, Bihar
30. Anuranjan Minz, Nabrangpur, Odisha
31. Alok kr. Biswal, Jajpur, Odisha
32. Anup kr. Giri, Malkangiri, Odisha
33. Rajeev Kumar, Balrampur, Chhattisgarh
34. Sudhir Kr. Halba, Rayagada, Odisha
35. Santosh Kumar, Garhwa, Jharkhand
36. Neha Gupta, Mandla, Madhya Pradesh
37. Meenakshee, Nayagarh, Odisha
38. Bhagwat Ahirwar, Mandla, Madhya Pradesh
39. Preshit Ambade, Rajnadgaon, Chhattisgarh
40. Shashi K.P. Akela, Aurangabad, Bihar
41. Rajeev Ranjan, Gumla, Jharkhand
42. Shila Matang, Khunti,Jharkhand
43. Ravi Dhanuka, Munger, Bihar
44. Mohd. Karimuddin Malik, Hazaribag, Jharkhand
45. Santosh Gedam, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra
46. Sumit Kumar, West Singhbhum, Jharkhand
47. Mayank Lodha, Saraikela, Jharkhand
48. Ramesh Reddy, East Godavari Andhra Pradesh
49. HarshaVashistha, Bastar, Chhattisgarh
50. Aditya Uppar, Subansiri, Arunachal Pradesh
51. Akash Patki, Narayanpur, Chhattisgarh
52. Pabitra Martha, Nayagarh, Odisha
53. Vinay Reddy, Bijapur, Chhattisgarh
54. Rohan Katepallewar, Kabirdham, Chhattisgarh
55. Sandeep Jain, Korea, Chhattisgarh
56. Naresh Babu, Sukma, Chhattisgarh
57. Rejani Pavithran, Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh
58. Hema Priyadarshini, Jashpur, Chhattisgarh
59. Laxmidhar Singh, Sundargarh, Odisha
60. Arpit Asthana, Sarguja, Chhattisgarh
61. Rajesh Tamadapally, Malkangiri, Odisha
62. Sweta T, Ramgarh, Jharkhand
63. Animesh Ghosh, Purulia, West Bengal
64. Vasundhara Das, Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh
65. Sumit Meshram, Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh
66. Chandrasekhar Prasad, Keonjhar, Odisha
67. Shivram Rathod
68. Belmati Jonko, Khunti, Jharkhand
69. RashmiRanjan Rout, Mayurbhanj, Odisha
70. Vartika Singh, Latehar, Jharkhand
71. Abhay Shankar, Karbi Anglong, Assam
72. Prudhvi P.. East Godavari. Andhra Pradesh
73. Madhukar Reddy. Jharkhand
74 Deependra Thakur, Suraj pur, Chhattisgarh
75. Nitin Puri, Bankura, West Bengal
76. Manzil Hussain, Sonitpur, Assam
77. Ransom Lungleng. Kohima, Nagaland
78. Rakesh Singh, Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh
79. Pradip Malviya,  Sidhi

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