Petition for the Release of Social Activist Working for Tribal People 

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To:  Concerned citizens and civil rights groups

Ex-TISSIAN Activist Working for Rights of Tribal People Arrested 

Ms Shamim (nee Meghani) Modi ex-TISSIAN, law graduate, has had to pay a heavy price for taking up the cause of tribal people and other industrial workers, exposing the corrupt nexus between the politician and the mining mafia and for working towards bringing about a change in the political functioning. She was arrested in gross violation of democratic rights on 10th February 2009 from her residence at Harda, M.P. and is presently lodged in Hoshaganbad jail. Procedure to secure bail from M.P High Court is now. 

The arrest was made on false charges of instigating tribals to attack forest officials and another case of kidnapping with the intention to kill the same tribal people, leveled against her (and her husband) in 2007. Subsequently no enquiries were conducted. But the immediate cause of her arrest is that on 9th February local industrialists belonging to 60 saw mills and factories issued an ultimatum to local administration that Shamim Modi and Anurag Modi be arrested in 48 hours or else they would shut down their establishments since they felt harassed by the growing complaints raised by their employees. The Shramik Adivasi Sanghathana (SAS), the local community based organisation was instrumental in raising the issue of non-implementation of Labour Act in 60 saw mills and plywood factory of the town. She had also taken up the concerns of more than 1000 load workers working in various Krishi Upaj Mandi in Harda District. 

There is a need to protest this and bring the issue in the public domain. 

What You Can Do - 
We should not let the corrupt and unjust to prevail and squash democratic voices and processes. Even from the comfort of our homes and spaces, can't we register our protest? Kindly do so by signing the petition online. 

Details of the case: 
For the past 2 years or more, Shamim's life has been under threat and she was given state protection during a P.I.L. which had crucial implications for illegal quarrying in the forest land of Betul District. The current charges and the circumstances of the arrest point towards the bias of the local administration against Ms Modi, Mr. Modi and the SAS. SAS has faced a lot of harassment from the local administration for taking up various issues of the tribal people like, non-payment of wages by the forest and other officials, bonded labour, alleged contentions to the title of land, inclusion of names of the tribal persons in the below-poverty-line list, etc. 

Given the nature of constant and difficult dealings with the administration to make their ends meet, the SAS over the past 6 years took a decision to become politically active in the hope of instilling democratic practices in the region. They are members of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, floated by peoples's movement striving to change the political system. They have been contesting the local, assembly and even Lok Sabha elections. The growing impact of the SAS activities and the fight for democratic space is being met by resistance from the local political and other power structures. 

Ms Shamim and her husband, Mr Anurag are educated/professionally qualified persons who have taken up the unpleasant task of working towards the rights of others (the tribal people and the marginalized) by sacrificing their careers and middle class security. Shamim has a B. A. from Jesus and Merry College, Delhi; M.A. from LSR, Delhi, M. Phil from TISS and Law Degree from Barkatullah University, Bhopal. The values adopted for work are Gandhian and socialist and it is to improve the ill-functioning systems of our society so that the marginalized have access to basic needs like food, shelter, health and education and can live in dignity under the law of the land. 

The Current Charges: 
The charges under which Shamim Modi has been arrested are clearly trumped up in character. This is in spite of the use of democratic and constitutional means by the Modis and the SAS to secure tribal and other sections of society their rights. 

The charges relate to an old case of 11th July, 2007, when forest department officials assaulted a tribal Ramdas and his sister-in-law Phoolwati in village Dhega for allegedly cultivating forest land. The official was armed and the people of the village in self defense overpowered him; subsequently the SAS activist and Shamim tried to lodge an F.I.R. which the police did not register. On the contrary, a case of kidnapping (Sec. 364 IPC) of the ranger (O.P. Patel), and robbery with intent to kill (Sec. 397 IPC), etc. were filed against Shamim and Anurag Modi, who were never even present at the site of the incident in village Dhega. Consequently, on 13th July 2007, Shamim along with Phoolwati and other women on proceeding to file the complaint at Harda District Court were stopped from doing so. They were then dragged away forcibly and taken to Bhopal for treatment. Ironically another case of kidnapping with intention to kill were lodged against Shamim. However the women were not given treatment at Bhopal. Due to a P.I.L. lodged it was possible to have a hearing in the High Court of M.P. at Jabalpur, where the women were heard and medical treatment arranged. 

Therefore, I seek solidarity from concerned citizens and citizens groups, and hope that this statement would be endorsed by you. It will be forward it to the C.M. of M.P., Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission, Chief Justice of M.P. and Prime Minister of our country.


The Undersigned

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