Niyamgiri activist Lingaraj Azad gets bail

Lingaraj Azad, convener of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS), who was arrested last week, was granted bail by a local court in Kalahandi district on Monday.

“We are happy that Mr. Azad, who was arrested on flimsy grounds, will be released from jail,” said activist Prafulla Samantara, who met Governor Ganeshi Lal here to seek his intervention on the police and administration’s “illogical” actions.

Mr. Azad had been charged for leading a demonstration outside the Vedanta alumina refinery at Lanjigarh on the foothills of Niyamgiri in April 2017 and for a demonstration outside the India Reserve Battalion camp at Trilochanpur village last month.

The activist was earlier granted bail in the Lanjigarh case while the court granted him bail in the Trilochanpur case on Monday.

Earlier in the day, a group of Dongria Kondhs, a tribal group, who had rejected a bauxite mining proposal through their gram sabhas in Niyamgiri in 2013, came to Bhubaneswar to express solidarity with Mr. Azad.

‘Peaceful protest’

“The decision to arrest Mr. Azad was an atrocious one. We have been peacefully protesting against attempts to start mining in Niyamgiri Hills. The government wants to bully us through indiscriminate arrests. The police had also slapped fabricated cases against me and Lada Sikaka, NSS chief,” said Dadhi Pusika, a Dongria Kondh community leader. He was part of the delegation that met the Governor.

The delegation urged Mr. Lal to order an impartial inquiry into police actions against the NSS leadership and Dongria Kondh tribes.

Mr. Azad was named as a sympathiser of banned outfit CPI(Maoist), which has been waging an armed rebellion against the government, in a statement released by the State police after his arrest on March 6. He was also accused of disturbing the poll process.


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