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Gladson Dungdung, a Jharkhand based human rights activist was offloaded from Delhi-London Air India flight on Monday morning. His passport was also impounded by airport immigration officials. Mr. Gladson was on his way to attend a workshop on Environmental History and Politics of South Asia at University of Sussex, UK on May 10.
Gladson wrote on his Facebook post that, “The reason told to me is that my passport had been impounded in 2013, therefore, they will send it back to RPO, Ranchi for verification. The fact is that my passport was impounded in 2013 and returned to me after proper verification in 2014. Thereafter, I had attended couple of international conferences in Denmark and London in 2014 and 2015 subsequently but there was no issue at all.”
Gladson is general secretary, Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM) and also author of seven books, including – Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India and Whose Country is it Anyway: Untold Stories of the Indigenous Peoples of India. “He came to prominence in 2011 when Jharkhand police and paramilitary forces launched Operation Anaconda within the state’s Saranda forests to flush out CPI(Maoist) members from the headquarters of their Eastern Regional Bureau. Mr. Dungdung was able to document and expose the plight of villagers caught in the crossfire. Later, he was one of the leaders of an agitation in the outskirts of Ranchi: villagers of Nagri opposed the takeover of farmland for multiple educational institutions.”[i] He affirms that the main reason behind such harassment is clearly his book ‘Mission Saranda’ and his activism against government’s land acquisition policy in Adivasi areas.
Dundung in another Facebook post provided detailed account of the incident, “In the IGI Airport, New Delhi, the immigration Officer asked me, “Are u doing study?” I replied, “I’m a researcher sir”. Next question was, research on which topic? I responded, “Human Rights”. As soon as he heard the words “Human Rights”, immediately, he left his seat and went to meet his boss holding my passport in his hand. He came back after 15 minutes and started calling the AI staff and told the person to offload my luggage. When I heard about offloading, I asked him, “What’s happening sir?” He replied, “We are offloading you because your passport is impounded. Soon, another officer came and they started the offloading processes.”
According to a report by Outlook India, “Dungdung’s passport had been issued under the Tatkal (urgent) scheme when he had been invited for an event at short notice. The Regional Passport Office in Ranchi had impounded it in 2013 claiming that police verification was pending as it had not been conducted under the Tatkal scheme. However, in 2014, a senior police officer of Jharkhand had told your reporter that the passport was impounded and stalled because of a police intelligence report on Dungdung claiming he was anti-national citing two incidents.
In one incident, there was a FIR against Dungdung for agitating against the ‘unconstitutional’ acquisition of tribal-owned, prime agricultural land for a national law university in Jharkhand’s state capital, Ranchi. The other incident was for calling out a fake encounter of a tribal villager by the security personnel during a counter-insurgency operation in the mineral-rich forests of Saranda, once said to be a ‘liberated’ zone, held by the Maoists. An internal police report had declared him a ‘Maoist sympathiser’ for his role in complaining to the National Human Rights Commission.””[ii]
Last year in January 2015, in a similar manner Priya Pillai- Greenpeace activist was offloaded at Delhi airport and denied boarding flight to London, when she was scheduled to address British legislators on the violation of human rights in Mahan, a coal mining area in Madhya Pradesh.
Mr Gladson added that, “Defaulters of millions of INR like Mr. Vijay Malaya (sic.) can’t be offloaded but activists like me are bound to be offloaded. However, my fight for the Advasis’ ownership rights over the natural resources, Adivasi identity, human rights, ecology and against unjust development processes will continue till they take away my right to life forever,”
[ii] Outlook India- Jharkhand actvist offloaded En Route to UK Workshop