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09 April, 2008

Jharkhand activist Jiten Marandi arrested

Jiten Marandi, a leading cultural activist of Jharkhand and Secretary of the New Delhi-based Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), was arrested at Ranchi on Saturday.

The CRPP, in a statement, demanded that he be released immediately and unconditionally.

The following is the text of the statement, issued on Sunday:

The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners condemns the arrest and detention of Jiten Marandi at Ratu road, Ranchi, yesterday (05/04/08) around 4.45 pm by the Intelligence Bureau. As per the limited information from the civil rights circles in Ranchi and other places, he was initially kept in the Sukhdev Nagar police station throughout the night and has been tortured by the police. Of late the Intelligence Bureau has admitted having arrested him while refusing to disclose where he has been confined.

The arrest was done without any proper warrant and till now he has been confined in police custody. The Intelligence Bureau has so far refused to frame charges against him. The Superintendent of Police has been maintaining that he is being questioned. This gives the police ample room to resort to any form of torture. It is the fundamental right of the detained to take the help of a lawyer, to be in touch with his kith and kin so as to ensure that he is being defended properly in the court. By delaying his production in the court the police and the Intelligence agencies are criminally preventing him from exercising his right to use the natural principles of justice as is ensured by the Constitution of this country.

In the meantime the police have been diligently feeding the media with stories so as to prejudice his natural right to be presumed innocent before conclusively being proved guilty on any proper charges filed against him. Neither there is any case pending on him nor has the police declared his arrest and framed charges. But the media is already agog with stories of his alleged involvement in the murder of the former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi's son in the Chilkari incident. We condemn strongly such incriminating tendencies of the media, ably promoted by the police so as to implicate Jiten Marandi even before he is booked under any proper charges which should be duly contested in the court. This is not an isolated incident. We see a definite pattern of impunity in reporting of the media in all such instances by becoming a handy tool in the hands of the police and the intelligence agencies. It goes against the right of the detainee to be presumed innocent till proven guilty as is guaranteed by Article 14 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is also a signatory.

Jiten Marandi is a leading cultural activist of Jharkhand who has been steadfast in raising songs of protest against all forms of exploitation of the poorest of people in one of richest of States in India in terms of its mineral and forest wealth. He is also one of the Secretaries of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, the inaugural conference of which had just got over on March 31 and April 1, 2008 in New Delhi.

Jiten Marandi's songs have given vent to the anger of those people who have been at the receiving end of the policies of loot and plunder that is being promoted by the Indian state in Jharkhand through several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed with multinational corporations and Indian big capital. He is an intellectual who has fearlessly expressed his political opinion, as is evident from his recent writings on the Naxalite movement in India in the Hindi newspaper Prabhat Khabar.

The Committee asserts that Jiten Marandi has every right as is due for any citizen in a democratic country to express his/her political opinion without fear or favour.

We strongly condemn the authoritarian attitude of the state to stifle and browbeat any form of political opinion or dissent. WE DEMAND HIS UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE.
In protest and in solidarity with the detained,

Gurusharan Singh, President
Prof. Amit Bhattacharyya, Secretary General
SAR Geelani, Vice-President
Rona Wilson, Secretary, Public Relations

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