Over Forty hours in jail, and three activists released, one still held in Singrauli
After being arrested in the middle of the night, and spending over forty hours in jail, three out of four Van Satyagraha activists have been released on bail at Waidan court, Singrauli.
Akshay Gupta, Vineet Gupta and Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) member Vijay Shankar Singh were granted bail. However, Bechanlal Shah, MSS member was denied bail. Greenpeace welcomed the court's decision but demanded the immediate release of a fourth activist, Bechanlal Shah – a member of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) and a resident of Amelia village.
"We are relieved that three of our colleagues are being released. But we condemn the continued detention of our colleague and friend, Bechanlalji. Peaceful protest is not a crime, and we will continue to demand his release and approach the High Court," said Samit Aich, Executive director of Greenpeace India.
The four activists were peacefully protesting on Wednesday to put a halt on the destruction of the Mahan forest for an Essar led coal mine. The Van Satyagrahis' arrest has shocked the civil society, Amnesty International India, Prashant Bhushan, Medha Patker, Vrinda Grover, National Alliance of Peoples Movements, 350.org and Jan Sangharsh Morcha are amongst those demanding their release, and the full upholding of activist and community rights.
Even after several attempts of intimidation, threats and actual arrests – villagers in Mahan have not lost hope. They continue to stand up for their land, forests and their rights. About one hundred villagers came out in the forest to show solidarity for the arrested activists and friends – sending a courageous and determined message that they will never give up their demand for saving Mahan forests.
Greenpeace and MSS will not be daunted from protecting the Mahan forests, and stand determined to oppose Essar's proposed coal mine and expose the company's wrongdoings. Now, we continue our efforts to release Bechanlalji from jail, who stood for his rights.