Bhopal clinic worker harassed by Hindutva thugs

Bhopal: On 11-12 October, 2003, Satinath (Satyu) Sarangi, Bhopal activist and coordinator of the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, was threatened by militant Hindu fundamentalists from the right-wing Bajrang Dal. Not only that, Satyu is now faced with harassment charges of criminal intimidation and abuse filed by Bajrang Dal member Mr. Jeetu who claims that Satyu attacked him. Satyu is being targeted because his clinic provides service to numerous indigent survivors of the Bhopal holocaust, including a substantial number of muslim patients.

Please take a moment to help prevent Satyu from facing false charges.

The intimidation faced by Satyu is in line with the criminal and violent manner in which Hindu right-wing forces are openly pursuing their agenda.

Fortunately,Satyu’s filing at the police station reporting Mr. Jeetu’s intimidation and abuse precedes the report filed by the Bajrang Dal members. However, the charges against Satyu carry a maximum of 2 years in jail and/or fine.

We request you to spend a few minutes to call or fax the District Collector of Bhopal to vouch for Satyu’s character and protest against the communalisation of day-to-day life in India. A draft model letter is pasted below.

To: Shri Anurag Jain

Collector, Bhopal

Madhya Pradesh

Fax: +91 755 2546733. From within India, dial: 0755 2546733

Tel: +91 755 2550003. From within India, dial: 0755 2550003

DRAFT LETTER

Dear Sir:

DATE: 14 October, 2003

Subject: Communal thugs threaten well-known health activist Satinath Sarangi

I’m aware and heartened by your proactive efforts to curb communal forces in the city of Bhopal, and would like to express my concern over a disturbing incident that happened late at night on 11 October, 2003, in the jurisdiction of the Gautam Nagar Police Station.

Mr. Jeetu, a resident of Block A, Sheetal Nagar in the Gautam Nagar Police station area, was introduced to Mr. Satinath Sarangi by an acquaintance with whom the latter was chatting en route his home in Block B, Sheetal Nagar. Mr. Jeetu appears to be a local Bajrang Dal strongman. I’m sure investigations by your office will confirm his antecedents and connections to communal elements and activities. Subsequent to his introduction to Mr. Sarangi, Mr. Jeetu began abusing Sarangi for the latter’s alleged closeness to the Muslim community (particularly among the gas-affected) in Bhopal. Mr. Jeetu has also threatened Mr. Sarangi.

I know Satinath Sarangi to be an upright man who has dedicated the last 19 years of his life to the cause of justice for the survivors of the Bhopal disaster. Sarangi is well known in India and internationally, particularly for his work in providing quality and much-needed medical care to the survivors of the disaster through the clinic in which he works. I also know that Sarangi is devoid of any communal biases, and that the Sambhavna clinic caters to all survivors irrespective of their religion or caste.

Mr. Jeetu & co have not only threatened Mr. Sarangi and spouted openly communal and abusive statements, they have also filed a police complaint against him for criminal intimidation and abuse at the Gautam Nagar Police Station. Moreover, the only two witnesses to the incident – a watchman and Sarangi’s acquaintance who introduced him to Mr. Jeetu — are currently being threatened and are frightened to testify.

I request your office to verify the antecedents of Mr. Jeetu, and intervene to not only free Mr. Sarangi of the illegitimate charges faced by him, but also to root out communal thugs such as Mr. Jeetu to make Bhopal a safer place. I also request you to take steps to reassure the witnesses and provide them with the necessary assurances for their safety so that they can testify honestly when the need arises.

Sincerely,

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