HC finally Grants Bail to Van Satyagrahi

Bechan Lal Shah was arrested three weeks ago for peacefully protesting against mining in Mahan forests

Press release - June 2, 2014
2nd June, 2014, Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh: After spending almost three weeks in prison, Van Satyagrahi and member of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti, Bechan Lal Shah was finally granted bail by the Jabalpur High Court today. Shah was arrested along with three other Van Satyagrahis on May 8, for trying to protect Mahan forests from mining.

Though the three other forest activists were released after 40 hours, Shah was denied bail. Angered by the arrests, villagers in the region of Mahan along with activists from leading social movements had held a peaceful protest outside the District Collector's office last week. "It took three weeks, a dharna and a high court order to get bail for a man, who merely dared to speak up for saving Mahan forests. We salute Bechan Lal ji. His courage and spirit in the face of a crisis is very inspiring," said Virendra Singh of Mahan Sangharsh Samiti.

The activists have been condemning the way Van Satyagrahis were arrested. While the police had been dragging its feet over filing an FIR for the forged Gram Sabha case, they took less them less than 48 hours to arrest the activists in a midnight raid.

"We have filed a writ petition in Jabalpur High Court demanding that the Superintendant of Police in Singrauli should file the FIR on the forged Gram Sabha case," says Priya Pillai, the petitioner, who is a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India.

Members of MSS and Greenpeace salute Bechan Lal ji's courage and are now even more determined to save the forests of Mahan. The Van Satyagraha will continue till the Stage II forest clearance to Mahan's proposed coal mine (a joint venture of Essar Power and Hindalco Industries) is revoked.