Niyamgiri activist Lingaraj Azad arrested

Charged with staging two protest demonstrations

March 07, 2019 12:55 am | Updated 12:55 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

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Lingaraj Azad, activist and adviser to Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, was arrested by the police in Kalahandi on Wednesday.

The arrest of Mr. Azad, who happens to be the national vice president of Samajwadi Jan Parishad and national convener of National Alliance of People’s Movements, was confirmed by Kalahandi Superintendent of Police Battula Gangadhar.

Mr. Gangadhar told The Hindu that a police team from Bijepur arrested the rights activist from Kesinga police station area of the district in a case relating to a protest demonstration outside the India Reserve Battalion camp at Trilochanpur village last month.

Activist Prafulla Samantara, who has been involved in the agitation against proposed bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills, however, claimed that the villagers were opposing the IRB camp since the security personnel had occupied their gram panchayat office without the consent of its office-bearers.

Mr. Azad has also been charged for staging a protest demonstration outside the Vedanta alumina refinery on the foothills of Niyamgiri; a case had been registered at Lanjigarh police station in April 2017 in this regard. He was later produced before a court at Bhawanipatna which remanded him in judicial custody.

Activists demand release

The development took many activists supporting the cause of the tribals living in the Niyamgiri hills by surprise. Terming Mr. Azad’s arrest illegal, SJP and NAPM activists demanded his immediate release.

Activists also passed a resolution condemning the arrest. “We condemn Mr. Azad’s arrest ahead of the SJP’s proposed rally in Bhubaneswar on March 11 on the continued violations of rights in Niyamgiri hills,” said Aflatoon, all-India general secretary of the SJP.

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