India: Police kidnap Arun Ferreira, activist for Dalits and tribals
Just after he was released after four years of imprisonment and
torture, plainclothes agents stopped him, hooded him and took him away
without a mandate. His lawyers were beaten when they intervened to
stop the kidnapping. For Fr. Allwyn D'Silva, president of the Justice
and Peace Commission of the ...
Friday, September 30, 2011
By Asia News See all articles by this author
Mumbai - "The warrantless arrest of Arun Ferreira once again
demonstrates the state's complete disregard for human rights." This is
the opinion of Fr. Allwyn D'Silva, president of the Justice and Peace
Commission of the Archdiocese of Mumbai and uncle of the activist for
the rights of tribals and Dalits. In prison since 2007 due to an
accusation of being a Nassalite (a Maoist guerrilla), on September 27
a special court in Maharashtra acquitted the man and ordered his
release. Which, in fact, never happened: just after he was released
from Nagpur prison, plainclothes officers stopped him, covered his
face and forced him into an unmarked car, in which they fled. All
under the gaze of his elderly parents, who were waiting for him
outside the prison. His lawyers tried to intervene but were beaten.
His lawyers immediately sent a letter to the Commissioner to ask for
the reasons of the arrest, but have not yet received and answer.
According to Fr. Allwyn, the new arrest – like that of 2007 – is
linked to his struggle to defend the rights of the most marginalized
in society, because "there are many cases like Arun's of false
accusations against those who defend the rights of the weakest".
Fr. Cedric Prakash is of the same opinion. Prakash, who is director of
the Prashant Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, signed
a petition to the chief minister of Maharashtra, asking that Arun
Ferreira be released immediately.
"This episode", the Jesuit explains, "is a terrible stain on a country
that believes in democracy and in the freedom of each individual
citizen. Arun Ferreira is an innocent man. He fought for the rights of
tribesmen, for their forests and for the Dalits who were killed. He
has been subjected to inhumane torture. A special court had declared
his incarceration null and had cleared all charges."
"Always", continued Fr. Prakash, "the Catholic Church has been the
side of the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed and anyone who is
denied his rights and his dignity. Arun Ferreira deserves justice, he
must be able to live as a free man. "
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