Urgent Appeal for action on behalf of Indian HRD Mr P.V. Rajagopal
URGENT APPEAL – 09/05/12
India: Human Rights Defender Mr P.V. Rajagopal and His Organisation Branded As Supporting Maoist Rebels
On 21 April 2012, Indian authorities ordered the deportation of ten French citizens who were accused of illegally working with the organisation Ekta Parishad (Unity Forum) and falsely accused Gandhian activist Mr P.V. Rajagopal of supporting Maoist rebels.
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President Pratibha Patil
Office of the President
New Delhi 110 004
Office of the President
New Delhi 110 004
I would like to draw your attention to human rights defender P.V. Rajagopal and the branding of his human rights organisation Ekta Parishad as supporting Maoist rebels.
On 21 April 2012, Indian authorities ordered the deportation of ten French citizens who were accused of illegally working with the organisation Ekta Parishad (Unity Forum) and falsely accused human rights defender and Gandhian activist Mr P.V. Rajagopal, leader and founding member of Ekta Parishad, of supporting Maoist rebels. P.V. Rajagopal is Vice-Chairman of the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi. He founded Ekta Parishad in 1991, a non-violent grassroots human rights organisation dedicated to restoring land and water rights to local communities in India.
The French citizens, four men and six women, are land reform activists who came to India to meet P.V. Rajagopal. They were detained on 21 April 2012 in a densely forested area of Bihar where Ekta Parishad had organised a meeting with the visitors and local farmers. Police officers in the area alleged that the French citizens violated their tourist visas by working for the organisation and that Ekta Parishad supports the cause of Maoist rebels. Police also alleged that they were not informed about the French citizens' stay in Nawada and Jamui, despite Ekta Parishad having reportedly provided the police with a copy of the visitors' passports and visas upon arrival.
P.V. Rajagopal vehemently denies the accusations, stating that Ekta Parishad works to protect the land and water rights of the disadvantaged and has never supported the cause of Maoist rebels. P.V. Rajagopal has been on a fast since 21 April 2012 as a form of protest against the arrests, deportations and accusations of Maoist rebel support. The regional governments in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have previously accused Ekta Parishad of being a Maoist organisation.
I express its concern at the false accusations of Maoist rebel support directed at human rights defender P.V. Rajagopal, the organisation Ekta Parishad, and about the deportation of foreign land reform activists. I believe that these activities are an attempt to prevent P.V. Rajagopal from carrying out his legitimate and peaceful human rights work, in particular the restoration of land and water rights to communities in India.
I urge the authorities in India to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the false allegations of Maoist rebel support made by the police against human rights defender P.V. Rajagopal and Ekta Parishad, with a view to publishing the findings and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
2. Take measures to ensure that government and police officials, or other public figures, refrain from making false statements and allegations stigmatising the legitimate and peaceful human rights work of P.V. Rajagopal;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.
Thank you for taking action on behalf of Mr P.V. Rajagopal.