Friday, August 4, 2017

Nikhil Dey, Norti Bai and Other Activists Acquitted in 19-Year-Old Case

Social activists Nikhil Dey, Norti Bai, Ram Karan and Chotu Lal, associated with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajasthan, have been acquitted in a 19-year-old case in which they were accused of ‘trespass and causing hurt’. They had been convicted a month ago by a local court and sentenced to fourth months in jail. The activists appealed against the case, the Times of India reported, at which the complainants withdrew their case.

The four activists were acquitted based on an order from the additional district judge’s court in Kishangarh after the complainants withdrew their case, Indian Express reported. The case was filed in 1988 after they visited the home of Harmara village sarpanch Pyare Lal Tank. Allegations of corruption had been levelled against the panchayat and the activists were there to ask him for information. According to Tank, the activists assaulted him when they came; the activists have refuted these charges and said it was the sarpanch who got violent and abusive with them.

Several people had expressed shock and dismay when Dey and others were convicted last month, saying they were having to pay a price for their social justice work. The MKSS, headed by noted activist Aruna Roy, and other RTI activists had saidthe organisation’s members “shocked and dismayed” at the judgment and termed the case as “yet another reminder of the backlash and attack that RTI activists consistently face when challenging entrenched centers of power.”

The conviction, they had said, pertained to an “an utterly false case filed by  a corrupt, powerful sarpanch who misused his influence and power and who had himself physically assaulted them for demanding information in a case where the activists were fighting for the rights of the poor through means that were completely within the ambit of the law.”