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.
A partial list of signatories include:
Nayantara Sahgal, Writer
Medha Patkar , National Allliance of People
Arundhati Roy , Writer
Uma Chakravarti , Feminist and Academician
Nandita Das , Actress and activist
Mani Shankar Aiyar , Former Union Cabinet Minister
Tapan Kumar Bose, Film Maker, Human Rights Activist
Aruna Roy, MKKS
Mallika Sarabhai , Padma Bhushan Award Winner, Dancer, Actress
Anand Patwardhan , Film Maker
FauziaRafique, Author and Poet , Canada
Konkonasen Sharma , Actress
Meena Kandasamy, Witer and Poet
Anwar Masood, Poet, Urdu and Punjabi
TeestaSetalvad , Journalist & Human Rights Activist ,Mumbai
Amrit Wilsonis a writer and activist , South Asia Solidarity Group, London
Vikram Iyengar, Kathak Artiste
Ram Puniyani, Writer ,Mumbai
Nikhil Wagle, Journalist, Mumbai
Anjum Rajabali,Screenwriter, Mumbai
Basil Fernando, Director, Programme and Policy, Asian Human Rights Commission and a Right Livelihood Award (alternative Nobel) laureate
JavedAnand , Journalist ,Editor , Communalism Combat
Sandeep Pandey , Human Rights activist , Magsasay award winner, lucknow
K N Panikkar (Historian)
Sanjay Kak, Film Maker ,New Delhi
Saba Dewan, Documentary Filmmaker
Kedar Mishra , Writer , Art Critic , Odisha
Debe Oram, Tribal Activist, Sundergarh, Odisha
Paromita Vora, writer and Independent filmmaker
Anjali Monteiro ,Film Maker
K P Jayasankar ,Film Maker
PankajButalia , Film Maker
Rajeev Ravi , Camera Person , Feature Film Director
Rahul Roy , Film Maker
Vinod Raja , Documentary Film Maker
Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Rakesh Sharma , Film Maker
Amar Kanwar , Film Maker
Prafulla samantara, Lok shakti abhiyan, Odisha
Dunu Roy , Researcher
Gopal Menon filmmaker
Priti Gulati Cox, artist, Kansas, USA
Sadanand Menon ,Writer
Nityanand Jayaraman, writer, social activist, Chennai
Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
Gabriele Dietrich , National Alliance of People’s Movement , Madurai
DeepaDhanraj , Documentary Film Director
Ajith Kumar , National Award winning Editor
Joysengupta, Theatre and film Actor
Uttam KHOBRAGADE I.A.S.(rtd) and Dalit activist
Mira Shiva , Health Activist
Prafulla Das, Journalist, Bhubhneshwar, Odisha
Biju Toppo , Camera Person
Navroze Contractor , Camera Person
P Baburaj , Film Maker
SreemithSekhar , Film Maker, Calicut
Meghnath , Film Maker
Surya Shankar Dash, Filmmaker, Bhubaneswar
GeetaSeshu, Journalist , Mumbai
Nakul Sawhney, filmmaker
ArundhatiDhuru ,Activist,Lucknow
Ashok Chowdhury, NFFPM
Kumar Prashant ,Chairman ,Gandhi Peace foundation,New Delhi
Leo Saldanha , Researcher,Environmental Activist , ESG
MadhumitaDutta , Activist- Researcher,Chenna
ShripadDharmadhikary ,Researcher,ManthanAdhyayan Kendra
Sudhir Patnaik ,Writer, Editor, Odisha
Wilfred D’costa , INSAF
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, feminist and human rights Activist
C R Neelakandan , Writer ,Social Activist , NAPM
Vincent Manoharan – Dalit Rights Defender.
Ashok Maridas, Grass root Consultants
Datta Desai, Social Activist, Pune -Maharashtra
Nicholas Barla
Ajay Kumar Singh, Human Rights Activist, Odisha
Sandeep Kumar Pattnaik
Abhishek Kumar Dash
ChandranathDani , Advocate ,Odisha
Goldy George , Researcher , Dalit Activist
EnakshiGanguly , Co-director, HAQ Centre for Child Rights ,New Delhi
Irfan Engineer , CSSS
Ovais Sultan Khan , Activist
Cedric Prakash SJ, Human Rights Activist ,Ahemdabad
Harsh Kapoor ,SACW
Binu Mathew , Editor, Countercurrents
Jose Kavi , Editor , Matters India
NiveditaMenon , JNU , New Delhi
Jagadish G Chandra , New Socialist Alternative
Amudhan R P , Film Maker
KritikaAgarwal , Camera Person
Joe Athialy , New Delhi
Benny Kuruvilla , Researcher , New Delhi
A K Ramakrishnan , Professor , JNU , New Delhi
PushpaAchanta , Journalist & Writer , Bangalore
Benny Benedict , VIBGYOR International Film Festival
Deme Oram , Tribal Activist , Sundargarh , Odhisha
TapanPadhi , President, Mission Justice
Razi , Film Director , Designer
K G Shangara Pilla (Poet)
K Sachidanandan (Poet, Writer)
Catherine Coumans., Miningwatch, Canada
B Rajeevan (Writer)
Deepika Tandon, Associate Professor, MirandaHouse, DU
KK Koch (Dalit Activist)
Parijata bhardwaj
Kavita Krishnan. AISA
Greeshma Aruna Rai
Ramesh Aagrwal, anti mining activist
Xavier Dias , anti mining activiat,
Leslie Rodricks
Ram Baheti, Maharashtra
V.Srinivas,Socil & Politica; activist, Delhi
KEN (Writer)
Eugene Culas,Director,Voice of Dalit International, London
P Surendran (Writer)
Anand Teltumbde, CPDR Mumbai
EV Ramakrishnan (Writer)
R Manohar , Regional Coordinator South Human Rights Defenders Alert India
Sp rights activist&advocate, VIJAYAWADA
A K Ramakrishnan (Writer)
Uma K P
Sreemith,Film maker,Calicut ,kerala
P K Parakkadav (Writer)
Karthik Navayan.
Pavani,Journalist, Hyderabad
Peter, National Secretary, National Fishworkers Forum(NFF)
Jackson Pollayil, Gen Secretary, Kerala Swathanthra Malsyathozhilaly Federation(KSMTF)
Magline Peter, Convenor, Theeradesa Mahila Vedi, Kerala
Deepa Vasudevan
Paul j kattukaran
Sarath Cheloor, ViBGYOR Film Collective.
Rahul Mahesh, Secretary, ViBGYOR Film Collective.
Ashish Kothari
Tapan Padhi, Child Rights activits, Odisha
Ambrose Pinto SJ, Principal – St. Aloysius Degree College, Bangalore
V S Roy David , National Adivasi Alliance
Ananyaa Gaur , Musician
SoumyaDutta, Bharat Jan VigyanJatha& India Climate Justice
Sundar Sarukkai, Manipal University, Faculty
K P Sasi , Film Maker, Activist
Vini Varghese , Assistant Director, Documentary Films
PradeepEsteves, Activist, Context India
NeshatQuaiser , Associate Professor , JamiaMilliaIslamia , New Delhi
Shamus Islam, writer