Chhattisgarh Government should re-investigate the Ramesh Agarwal shooting case

Signatures:
  64 (Goal: 500)

Petitioning: For those organizations and individuals who believe in justice

Petitioner: Sagar Dhara started on April 14, 2017

Chhattisgarh Government should re-investigate the Ramesh Agarwal shooting case

No justice in Chhattisgarh—Ramesh Agrawal’s shooters acquitted in court

Ramesh Agrawal, a Raigarh-based RTI and environmental activist was shot by two unknown assailants on Saturday, 7 July 2012. The assailants walked into Satyam Computers, the internet café owned by Ramesh, on the pretext of wanting to discuss some computer-related work, then pulled a gun and threatened him and told him that he was speaking and writing too much. In the scuffle that ensued, Ramesh was shot in the thigh, after which the assailants fled on a motorcycle. Ramesh survived the shooting, and despite multiple medical procedures, has a permanent limp.

After investigations the Raigarh police filed a criminal case (CC 14/2013) against Sangram and five others and charged them under IPC sections Nos 120B (criminal conspiracy), 307 (attempt to murder) and 450 (house trespass. On 3 February 2017, the First Additional Sessions Judge, Raigarh, Shri Sahabuddin Qureshi, acquitted all the accused in the case for lack of adequate evidence.

The revolver produced in court was not the one that was used to fire against Ramesh. The prosecution failed to prove that an abandoned motorcycle found near a railway crossing soon after the shooting was the one that was used by the assailants to escape. The court order further states that Ramesh could not identify the assailants during the identification parade, though Ramesh hotly denies this.

It appears that the police investigation was quite slipshod, and the prosecution did not present the case properly.

Background to the shooting event

For his untiring effort to protect the environment and uphold truth, Ramesh had been targeted earlier as well. In 2011, the police arrested Ramesh and one other environmental activist for allegedly defaming the Jindal group of industries in an environmental clearance public hearing for the proposed expansion of a Jindal power plant. Ramesh was in judicial custody for 73 days before he got bail from the Supreme Court.

The immediate cause for Jindal’s ire against the activists was the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s (MoEF) stop-order on Jindal’s 2,400 MW coal-based power plant expansion plan. Plant construction was started without MoEF’s environmental clearance and on Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation’s land. Based on Ramesh’s letter written in March 2010 highlighting these irregularities, MoEF was forced to act against Jindal.

In another instance, the National Green Tribunal cancelled the environmental clearance granted for a 4 million tonne per annum coal mine allotted to Jindal based on evidence presented by Ramesh to show that that due procedure was flouted in the mandatory public hearing held to clear the project.

Ramesh has for several years opposed the environmental injury being caused by rapid industrialisation in the coal-rich region of North Chhattisgarh. In the process, he has repeatedly clashed with the Jindal group of industries, the largest industrial house in this region with interests in mining, steel making and power generation. For years, Ramesh has been discharging his duty under Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution that makes every Indian responsible “to protect and improve the natural environment”. All he has asked for is for industry to stop violating environmental and revenue laws.

For his untiring work to protect the environment, which he has done with his own money and on his time (Ramesh has no registered NGO or financial grant from any source), Ramesh was awarded the Goldman Environment Prize in 2014. Yet, unscrupulous elements found it fit to target him.

Mineral wealth, forests and adivasis often exist together. To mine the minerals, forests have to be cleared and adivasis displaced. Environmentalists and human rights activists are inconvenient obstacles for project proponents as they demand protection for forests and adivasis, and therefore need to be fixed. A long line of environmentalists, human rights and trade union activists, including Ramesh Agarwal, Binayak Sen, Harihar Patel, Rajesh Tripathi, Shankar Guha Niyogi, Himanshu Kumar, Bela Bhatia, etc, have been targeted in Chhattisgarh, where the government has acted more like a banana republic that protects the interests of the haves to the detriment of the have-nots. This must stop NOW..

Petition

Dr. Raman Singh
Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government of Chhattisgarh
C M House
Civil Line, RAIPUR 492001
Email: mail@cmo.cg.gov.in Fax 0771 2331000


Sub: Acquittal of accused in CC 14/2013, State of Chhattisgarh Vs Sangram Singh & Ors in the court of 1st Addl Sessions Judge, Raigarh (Chhattisgarh)

Sir,

On 3 February 2017, the First Addl Sessions Judge, Raigarh, Shri Sahabuddin Qureshi acquitted Shri Sangram and 5 others, who were in accused in the above case under IPC # 120B, 307 & 450 in the attempted murder of Shri Ramesh Agarwal, RTI activist and environmentalist. The court order stated that the accused was given benefit of doubt as the prosecution was unable to establish the guilt of the accused.

We the undersigned have gone through the court order and find that the police did not investigate the case with any degree of seriousness and that the prosecution’s arguments in court were weak. There is clear evidence that Shri Ramesh Agarwal was shot in his left thigh by assailants on 7 July 2012 while he was working in his office. The medical reports state that the injury was due to two bullets. Despite this compelling evidence, the police investigation was unable to establish the guilt of the persons who committed this crime.

We, the undersigned, request you to re-investigate this case and bring the guilty to justice.

Yours sincerely,