It’s been nine months since Panchayat member and union leader Bhagwati Sahu was imprisoned in Ravaan, Chhattisgarh, for allegedly assaulting two employees of the Ambuja-Holcim cement factory and making off with Rs.3500 and a Nokia 2700 Classic cell phone. […]
In court submissions, the police say that Mr. Sahu is a man of criminal antecedents, pointing to the 18 cases registered against him. Mr. Sahu has been twice denied bail in light of these cases. Mr. Sahu’s lawyers say he has been framed and victimized for standing up to Ambuja Cement, a subsidiary of Holcim, a cement manufacturer with production sites in about 70 countries.
Union members have noted that in India, an overburdened judicial system means that the process is often the punishment for those awaiting trial. 2010 data provided by prison authorities indicate that approximately 60 per cent of Chhattisgarh’s inmates are prisoners under trial, and may ultimately be found innocent. Ambuja-Holcim has denied these allegations. “There is no malice or victimizing …as alleged. Nor is his case anyway connected with his position in any union. [sic]” said a spokesperson for Ambuja-Holcim in an email, adding that a local court had forbidden Mr. Sahu and his associates from holding meetings within 500 metres of the plant premises. […]