More Mumbaikars root for Ferreira’s release

Anahita Mukherji, TNN | Oct 14, 2011, 06.30AM IST MUMBAI:

There has been growing support for Mumbai boy Arun Ferreira, who spent four years in a Nagpur jail on grounds of being a Naxalite. He was acquitted of all charges a fortnight ago and then abducted from the court premises before he could walk free, and later re-arrested. The Bombay Catholic Sabha, BJP corporator Ashish Shelar and Harmony Foundation, which works for human rights, are among those who have thrown their lot behind him. Ferreira’s childhood friend, Neil Pereira has begun gathering eminent people to support him.

On Thursday, Gordon D’Souza, president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha and Abraham Mathai, former vicechairperson of the state minority’s commission and president of Harmony Foundation, along with the Ferreira family, met state home minister R R Patil. They submitted a letter calling for justice to be done in Ferreira’s case. “Kindly tell us why, after being honourably acquitted in 9 cases, subjected to two narco analysis, interrogation under torture, dismissal by the courts of the evidence found at the time of arrest, the state still feels the need to arrest him now under cases relating events that occurred prior to his arrest,” says the letter.

Ferreira’s lawyers submitted a letter describing the events that unfolded on September 27. Their letter says that as Ferreira was coming out of jail, “some unidentified persons pulled him from the jail gate, covered his mouth with their hands, dragged him to a numberless Tata Sumo, pushed him inside and left the jail premises”. They said that when they approached the police, they, too, were assaulted.

“The entire incident goes against natural justice. We are in the midst of studying the case,” says Shelar. “If Arun Ferreira is acquitted, there should be no political pressure on any government to get him re-arrested in the absence of a warrant,” he added. D’Souza points out that the fresh charges slapped on Ferreira date back to 2007, prior to his arrest. “Why were these charges not brought up over the last four years?

It seems like a deliberate attempt by vested interests to keep him behind bars in connivance with the police,” he said. “Arun worked with tribals to protect forest land. If this is the fate meted out to human rights activists, people will be afraid to take to activism,” he added. “Prima facie, the new charges appear to be false. The home minister needs to appoint a senior officer to investigate this case,” said Mathai, adding, “If the new charges are true, why weren’t they added to the previous charges when he was in jail?”

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