PUCL CONDEMNS ARREST OF AJAY TG, MEDIA PERSON & HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST IN CHHATTISGARH

Press Release:
Raipur, 7th May 2008:


The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) strongly condemns the arrest of Ajay TG, widely recognized film maker, journalist and human rights activist by the Chhattisgarh police in Raipur on 4 May 2008 and calls for his immediate release.


The fact that Mr. Ajay T G has been detained under the Anti-democratic draconian law i.e. The Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act – 2005, it is obvious that the State Police is following its repressive policy to brand human rights activists/organizations as “terrorists” involved in “unlawful activities”. As per their admission to the press, the State Police has no evidence against Ajay TG except what it claims to be a letter purportedly written by him to a Maoist leader.


PUCL has strong grounds to believe that Ajay is being victimized for his human rights work as an active member of our organization and against which the Chhattisgarh government is carrying out a systematic campaign of vilification and victimization. There is a deliberate attempt by the State Government to spread falsehoods against human rights organizations, and “branding” PUCL.


PUCL believes that the framing in false case of Ajay T G, a member of the State Executive Committee of Chhattisgarh Unit of PUCL, is also linked with the failure of the prosecution to establish any fact during the Trial in Dr. Binayak Sen’s case, held from 30th April to May 3, 2008.


It may be re-called that Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh PUCL & Vice-President of National PUCL has been illegally detained since May 14, 2007 for his alleged support to the Communist Party of India (Maoists). However, those witnessing the Trial proceedings in the Court of Sri B S Saluja, Additional District & Sessions Judge, Raipur, are of the unanimous opinion that none of the six witnesses produced by the prosecution could establish an iota of evidence in the case. On the contrary, one witness was declared ‘hostile’ by the prosecution, and three of them openly declared that they had made no statement to the police to this effect. They also did not identify any of the three accused present in the Court, including Dr. Binayak Sen.


Ajay T G is the second member of the PUCL-Chhattisgarh to be arrested so far, the first being Dr Binayak Sen, well known humanitarian doctor, having recently won the prestigious Dr. Jonathan Mann Award for 2007 for Global Health & Human Rights.


It may be recalled that prior to his arrest Ajay TG was un-necessarily and deliberately dragged into a controversy by the police at Raipur on 30 April, the first day of Dr Sen’s trial when they discovered a Swiss pen-knife like, tool kit, in his bag. He was unaware that he was carrying it and innocently had brought it into the court room. The police then presented him as a “fraud media person”, although Mr. Ajay T G apologized in writing to the concerned Court for this “human error”, and gave the facts of the case. The hon’ble Court accepted the apology, and no action was taken against him.


Several news papers that evening and next morning carried sensational reports of him and the Swiss knife, ridiculously stating that the PUCL State Executive Member had come with a “modern, deadly and dangerous weapon”. It is clear that Ajay’s detention is a measure of desperation on the part of the Chhattisgarh authorities, who are running out of excuses to harass and suppress human rights activists. .


As a film maker Ajay TG has worked on numerous projects as director, cameraman, and editor and is also an accomplished graphic artist. Some of his films that have been screened at festivals abroad include ‘Living Memory’, screened at A Season of South Asian Documentaries and Films, Cambridge, UK; ‘Safar’ screened at Sheffield International Film Festival, Sheffield, UK and ‘The Last Shelter’ screened at Royal Anthropological institute Film Festival, London, UK. Since 1994 Ajay T G has also assisted Professor Jonathan Parry — a world renowned social anthropologist at London School of Economics and Political Science– in his research on industrialization in Bhilai.


Since September 2005 Ajay has been Director of Drksakshi , a voluntary organization providing a dignified educational environment for young girls from extremely impoverished families in an urban slum in Bhilai. He is currently also State Convener for Campaign Against Child Labour and Treasurer of the All India Youth Federation, Chhattisgarh.


PUCL appeals to all human rights and democratic organizations/individuals to strongly condemn this repressive act of the Chhattisgarh Government, and express solidarity and support in defending the well recognized Media person & human rights activist.


Rajendra K Sail