Arun Ferreira being victimized

Anahita Mukherji, TNN Oct 12, 2011, 02.13AM IST

MUMBAI: St Xavieras College, a Jesuit institution with a strong culture of social justice, has come out in support of Arun Ferreira, an alumnus of the college who passed out from the institution in the 1990s, and has been in jail since 2007 on charges of being a Naxalite.

A fortnight ago, Ferreira, who was acquitted of all charges, was suddenly a˜abducteda from outside Nagpuras Central Jail and rearrested on a fresh set of charges.

Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, the college principal, has written to his students and the alumni, encouraging them to sign a petition in support of Ferreira. The online petition, which seeks chief minister Prithviraj Chavanas intervention, was created by Fr Cedric Prakash, also an alumnus of the college.

asFerreira seems to be just one of the human rights defenders who are being treated cruelly for daring to protest on behalf of innocent tribals and dalits who are being exploited,aa said Fr Mascarenhas in his letter.

asFor four years, while Arun Ferreira was in jail, we did not raise our voice as there were charges against him and we believed that the law would take its course. Anyone who is charged with violating the law should be pulled up. But in this case, he was charged on seven counts but acquitted of all of them. And yet, in filmi style, he was abducted without being given a chance to step out of prison. This looks like a clear case of victimization. If someone is even faintly accused of being a Naxalite, he is denied even basic human rights. If there are charges against him, they need to be proved. Four years and seven charges are enough of a chance for the police to make their case,aa Fr Mascarenhas told TOI.

Ferreiraas mother said she was very grateful to the college for standing up for him.

asItas absolutely extraordinary for an educational institution to do such a thing. This is precisely how educational institutions should function,aa said P A Sebastian of Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, who applauds St Xavieras for its courage.

asHere is a person who is fighting for the justice of the poorest of the poor whose natural resources are being robbed by multinationals. The state has clearly taken the side of those who cut down forests and expel tribals,aa said Sebastian.

Fr Mascarenhas felt miscarriage of justice should not be permitted. asThings have really come to a head. People cannot sit back anymore.

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