Film Makers, Writers, Cultural Personalities and Activists Demand Release of Deba Ranjan Sarangi

Published on: April 1, 2016


More than 500 Renowned film makers, writers ,artistes  and activists have demanded the immediate release of Deba Ranjan Sarangi who was suddenly picked up on the morning of March 18 in Odisha . Some of them are  Nayantara Sehgal, Arundhati Roy, Amrit Wilson, Uma Chakravarti , Sandeep Pandey  Medha Patkar, Nandita Das, Konkanasen Sharma , Mallika Sarabai, Paromita Vora , Anand Patwardhan, Sandeep Pandey , Meena Kandasamy ,  K N Panikkar  Endorsements have been also received from various parts of the world

Renowned film makers, writers and activists have demanded the immediate release of Deba Ranjan Sarangi who was suddenly picked up on the morning of March 18. Some of the signatories include Anand Patwardhan (Film Maker) Sudhir Patnaik (writer, editor) Dhirendra Panda (Human Rights Activist) K.P. Sasi (Film Maker, Human Rights Actvist) and Ajay TG (Film Maker,Human Rights Activist)

Text of the statement:

We the undersigned film makers, writers, professionals in the area of art & culture, academics, activists and social organisations are deeply shocked to hear about the arrest of independent documentary film maker, writer and human rights activist Deba Ranjan Sarangi.  We  strongly condemn the arrest view it as part of an overall strategy of the Indian State to curb  freedom of speech, freedom of expression of artists, writers, film makers and cultural personalities. We also condemn it in the  context of the overall suppression of dissent and suppression of human rights defenders in the era of strong facilitation of the forces of communalism and globalisation by the Indian State  and in particular, by the Odisha government.
Deba Ranjan Sarangi was arrested on March 18, 2016, by plainclothes policemen from the Kucheipadar village of Rayagada District, Odisha. Debaranjan was in Kucheipadar to attend a funderal ceremony of one of his friend’s  father. He was arrested with a non-bailable warrant issued by the court of JMFC, Kashippur in pursuance of a case registered in Tikri police station of Rayagada district in 2005,  when Debaranjan was actively involved in the struggle of the Adivasis in Kashipur to protect their lands from the invasion of the bauxite mining companies.
Deba Ranjan Sarangi has been a consistent and passionate voice against injustice both within and outside Odisha. As a writer, film maker and human rights activist, he has highlighted and critiqued policies of destructive development, unbridled mining practices, displacement, police impunity, atrocities on Dalits, Adivasi issues , growth of communal fascism in Odisha, violence on women and farmers’ suicide in the context of acute agrarian.
As per the reports, Deba Ranjan Sarangi was detained at Jaraguda police station for interrogation. It is learnt that Tikiri police arrested him in an old case warrant with GR case no: 12 of 2005 under Sections 147,148 and 506 of Indian Penal Code. HRDA has been informed that the case is related to a protest and agitation against Utkal Alumunia Company in Kashipur block of Raigada district which took place in the year of 2005. During that period a non-bailable warrant was issued against the defender under section 506 of IPC which is apparently being executed now after a gap of 11 years. If the police machinery was really convinced about these fabricated cases on Deba Ranjan Saragi, there was no need to take 11 years to arrest him, since Debaranjan was active as a film maker and a writer during the entire period.
Writer and documentary film maker Deba Ranjan Sarangi who has spent his precious time for the struggles of Adivasis in Odisha is also a member of Ganantrik Adhilkar Surakya Sangathan (GASS). His films include: 1. At the Crossroads, 2. The Conflict: Whose Loss Whose Gain, 3. From hindu to Hindutva, 4. Visit to Basaguda.

We the undersigned hereby strongly reiterate that it is not possible to silence the voice of dissent, the expressions of our conscience or even the reporting of facts by intimidation, imprisonment or through fabricated cases. We remind the authorities that the arrest of Debaranjan Saragi is a clear violation of Articles 14, 19, 21 and 22 enshrined in the Indian Constitution in defense of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and human rights. Authorities have also violated the safeguards mandated by the Supreme Court in various decisions regarding the arrest of an individual.  Such arrests are not only undermining Indian democracy, but also the flourishing growth of all artistic creativity. Deba Ranjan has been put behind bars because he had the courage to show what he witnessed to the world through his expressions of film making, writing and speech. He is neither a Maoist nor a terrorist. We call upon the Odisha government to address the issues raised by the human rights defenders in the State of Odisha rather than imprisoning them and crushing the voices of film makers. We call upon the Odisha government to desist from such disgraceful attempts of  violating the Indian Constitution and Indian democracy.
Therefore we demand the immediate release of Debaranjan Sarangi and an immediate dropping of all false charges against him. We also  appeal to the civil society to circulate this information widely within your reach.