February 27, 2018
On 23 February, the bail application of senior counsel and human rights lawyer Upendra Nayak was rejected by the Junior Magistrate First Class (JMFC), Mohana in Gajapati district in Odisha state. He was arrested on 20 February by Paralakhemundi Police. His next bail application will be filed before the District Judge.
On 21 February 2018, Upendra Nayak appeared before Gajapati Judicial Magistrate and was sent to R. Udaygiri Jail.
On 20 February, Upendra Nayak was arrested in relation to ten criminal cases where he himself was the defense lawyer and has been charged under sections 121, 121-A, 124-A of the Indian Penal Code which are related to sedition, waging war against the State, and various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. These cases were registered between 2009 and 2010 wherein he successfully defended adivasi individuals who were arrested under anti-Maoist operations. All the trials ended in acquittals.
This is not the first case where a lawyer representing or working with adivasi people has been subjected to judicial harassment in India. Most recently, Advocate A. Murugan was arrested in 2017 in relation to criminal cases in which he had been defending the accused.
Front Line Defenders condemns the arrest of of human rights defender Upendra Nayak, as it strongly believes that it is directly linked to hispeaceful and legitimate work as a human rights lawyer in Odisha state in India.