IND 001 / 0112 / OBS 004.1
Release on bail /
Ongoing arbitrary detention /
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint
programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International
Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests
your urgent intervention in the following situation in
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the release
on bail of Mr. Abhay Sahoo, President of the “POSCO Pratirodh Sangram
Samiti” (PPSS), a movement that has been leading a six-year campaign against
forcible acquisition of common lands by South Korean steel giant POSCO in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha
State (formerly Orissa State).
According to the information received, on March 14, 2012, Mr. Abhay
Sahoo was granted bail by the High Court of Odisha, and was released from
Choudwar prison, Odisha State, at 5 pm.
The Observatory welcomes the release on bail of Mr. Abhay Sahoo and
thanks all the persons, institutions and organisations who intervened
in his favour.
However, the Observatory is concerned that as of issuing this Urgent Appeal, it is not clear whether the charges
against Mr. Abhay Sahoo remain pending, while Mr. Narayan Reddy, who has
been leading the anti-POSCO campaign following the arrest of Mr. Sahoo on
November 25, 2011, remains detained since December 23, 2011 in Samagol prison, Odisha State (See background information).
On December 23, 2011, Mr.
Narayan Reddy was arrested in the early morning
near Japa Square in
Erasama area of Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha, and taken to Kujang police
station. He was then brought before a local court, which remanded him to
judicial custody for two weeks after he was falsely charged with
On January 9, 2012, a petition for
release on bail of Mr. Narayan Reddy was rejected by the Additional
District Session Judge of Jagatsinghpur, Mr. Sachidananda Sahu.
Mr. Reddy is reportedly being held in connection with violent
incidents that took place on December 15, 2011 at the proposed site of the POSCO
steel plant, when workers of a contracting firm engaged in construction of an access
coastal road for the POSCO plant, the Paradip Paribahan Company, broke barricades that villagers and protestors had peacefully
erected, and attacked the villagers who turned violent. As a result,
one person died and 25 protesting villagers were seriously injured
during the clashes. Police teams arrived well after the attacks commenced and did not
immediately intervene to prevent the clashes.
It is to be mentioned that while Mr. Narayan Reddy, who has been leading the anti-POSCO campaign following the arrest of Mr.
Abhay Sahoo on November 25, 2011, in the same context, participated in the peaceful protest on December 15, 2011, he was
not directly involved in the clash.
Please write to the authorities of India, urging them
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological
integrity of Messrs. Narayan Reddy and Abhay Sahoo, of all PPSS members as well as of all human rights
defender sin India;
ii. Release Mr. Narayan Reddy immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to
merely sanction his human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to acts of any acts of harassment - including at the
judicial level - against Messrs. Narayan Reddy and Abhay Sahu as well as against all human rights defenders in
Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on
Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its:
- Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually
and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and
realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and
- Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right,
individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful
activities against violations of human rights and fundamental
- Article 12.2 (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure
the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in
association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de
facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other
arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the
rights referred to in the present Declaration”);
v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human
rights instruments ratified by India.