The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan has strongly condemned the attack on environmental activist and RTI user Ramesh Agrawal of Jan Chetna Manch, Chhattisgarh on July 6.
Ramesh Agrawal is believed to be out of danger now. In a statement released on Monday by MKSS activists Aruna Roy, Shankar Singh, Bhanwar Meghvanshi and Nikhil Dey urged the Chhattisgarh government to bring the assailants to book without further delay.
Ramesh Agrawal and the Jan Chetna Manch have for several years now, been opposing the ecological destruction caused by rapid industrialisation in the coal-rich region of North Chhattisgarh. In the process the organisation has repeatedly clashed with thermal power companies such as Jindal Steel and Power Ltd which has a three million tonne steel plant in Raigarh, the statement noted.
In June last year, Ramesh Aggarwal was imprisoned for two months for supposedly provoking the crowds at a public hearing organised to grant clearance for a 2,400-MW thermal power plant proposed by Jindal Power Ltd. In April however, the JSPL were held accountable when the National Green Tribunal cancelled the environmental clearance granted for a four-million-tonne per annum coalmine operated by the Jindals, on evidence presented by Jan Chetna Manch to show that that the mandatory public hearing held to clear the project had flouted procedure, the statement added.
The Jan Chetna Manch has persistently and peacefully opposed powerful interests and made use of democratic tools such as the jan sunwai and the RTI Act. These voices must be protected, heard and considered seriously, the activists said.
"We also urge that the government of India put in place a Whistleblowers Act and a system which will prevent such illegal and grave acts of violence in the future," the statement said.