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UP: Ambedkar Jan Morcha Threatens ‘Jail Bharo’ if Arrested Activists are not Released

Ten persons, including retired IPS officer and activist S R Darapuri, have been in jail for 15 days following a peaceful protest for Dalit land rights in Gorakhpur district.
S.R. Darapuri at the Gorakhpur protest. Photo: Facebook/Siddharth Ramu

S.R. Darapuri at the Gorakhpur protest. Image Courtesy: Facebook/Siddharth Ramu

New Delhi: Dalit rights group, Ambedkar Jan Morcha, has threatened to launch a ‘jail bharo’ (fill the jail) protest if its members and social activists, including retired IPS officer S R Darapuri, 79, are not released from jail.

The activists were arrested 15 days ago, on October 11, during a protest for land rights for Dalits in Gorakhpur district, the constituency of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The police claimed that they were arrested for violating prohibitory orders and alleged vandalism. Among those arrested is a French citizen, who was taking videos at the site.

The protest, ‘Dera Dalo, Ghera Dalo’ saw hundreds of protesters in front of the Divisional Commissioner’s office, mainly women, demanding one acre of land for landless families in the state, especially those belonging to the Scheduled castes (SCs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and other marginalised groups.

According to a report in The Hindu, the Ambedkar Jan Morcha said it would not be “cowed down” by the government’s "repressive tactics”.

“The arrests symbolise repressive tactics by the administration to silence pro-poor voices and the people’s movement. If the activists are not released, we will launch a ‘jail bharo’. Fighting for people’s rights has become a crime, with false cases being lodged,” Nirdesh Singh, a member of the organisation who has also been named in the FIR, told The Hindu.

 Apart from social activist Darapuri and the French national, the other arrested persons are Ambedkar Jan Morcha’s convenor Shrawan Kumar Nirala, activist, Rishi Kapoor Anand, lawyer Jai Bhim Prakash, independent journalist Neelam Baudh, Siddharth Ramu and three YouTubers.

Nirala’s brother told The Hindu that ‘all charges are false. We have approached the courts. Section 307 (attempt to murder) was added to the FIR a day after it was registered. Videos of the protest, held in a peaceful manner, are in the public domain,”

Meanwhile, the police declined to give details to The Hindu saying that the probe was in progress and claimed a ‘conspiracy-like’ situation.

On October 11, Darapuri, in a Facebook post had written “I came yesterday to attend the public meeting organised by the Gorakhpur Ambedkar Jan Morcha regarding issues of Dalit communities and civil rights and the meeting was concluded peacefully. This morning Gorakhpur police came to take me to the police station.”

His son had told reporters that the 79-year-old suffered from Parkinson’s and other ailments.

Recall that the former IPS officer was very active in the anti- CAA (citizenship amendment Act) protests held in 2019, and was arrested and released on bail. He, along with 28 others, was also slapped with a fine of Rs 63 lakh for allegedly damaging public property.

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