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Sangh Parivar activists disrupt tribunal hearing

Wednesday 15 June 2005, by DAS*Prafulla

"Activists threatened to rape and parade us naked," says member

Tuesday’s hearing was the final session Incident "shocking, outrageous and highly deplorable" Fax message from VHP office-bearer to some activists not to depose

BHUBANESWAR: he hearing by the Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights on the communal situation in Orissa was disrupted by Sangh Parivar workers here on Tuesday.

The tribunal members, including two retired judges, were allegedly harassed and threatened with dire consequences.

"The Parivar activists threatened to rape us and parade us," said Angana Chatterji, a member.

The public hearings, intended to find out whether there was any communal tension in the State and, if so, the causes leading to such a situation, were held in Phulbani, Keonjhar, Bhadrak and Jagatsinghpur districts during the last few days. Tuesday’s hearing was the final session.

`Highly deplorable’

Justice K.K. Usha, former Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, and Justice R.A. Mehta, former Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, who were among the four members conducting the hearing at Red Cross Bhavan, termed the incident as "shocking, outrageous and highly deplorable."

Later, at a press conference, the tribunal members said that several activists of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had come to depose responding to the invitations sent to their State offices earlier. Four of them, including two women, deposed without any hesitation and their submissions were taped with their consent.

Trouble started when the activists received a fax message from the organising secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s State unit, asking them not to participate.

Activists’ threat

The Parivar workers then allegedly demanded that they be given the audiotapes containing the submissions.

When the tribunal members said that the Sangh Parivar testimonial was necessary to the tribunal’s work, the activists threatened that they would use any means to take possession of the tapes, Dr. Chatterji said.

Tapes destroyed

With tension building up, Dr. Chatterji destroyed the tapes in front of the Parivar members as demanded by them.

The hearing ended and the tribunal members decided to leave the venue.

As they were proceeding towards their vehicle, the Parivar members, comprising nine men and two women, said the tribunal was funded by foreign agencies, she said.

They threatened to rape the women members and parade them naked.

See online : The Hindu

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