Tribal rights activist and author Gladson Dungdung on Monday alleged that his passport was unfairly impounded at the Delhi airport while he was on way to the University of Sussex in London to participate in a workshop on environmental politics.
Dungdung said he was being targeted for his recently published book, ‘Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India’ — in which he wrote about the plight of tribals in Jharkhand’s mineral-rich Saranda forest. He said the book highlighted the anti-people, industrialisation policies of the government.
“My passport was once impounded in 2013, but I got it back in 2014. I had also travelled to London and Denmark in 2015 without any trouble,” said Dungdung, adding that he would take up the matter with the ministry of external affairs.
Ranchi passport officer Sanatan said Dungdung’s passport was cleared for travelling post-July 2014.
“We had impounded his passport back in October 2013 and restored it in July 2014. There is no problem whatsoever with his passport as per our records,” he said.
Dungdung was scheduled to fly by Air India flight 115 to London to attend the workshop on May 10 at the University of Sussex’s Centre for World Environmental History. He had a return ticket for May 14 to New Delhi.
“I requested the airport authorities to at least arrange for my return ticket to Ranchi, but they refused. The government lays red carpets at airports for defaulters like Vijay Mallya and the ones who speak of human rights are harassed,” he said.
Dungdung was a member of the assessment and monitoring authority under the Planning Commission from 2011 to 2013. He has been in the news for writing extensively on the adverse effects of modernisation and industrialisation on the tribal community in Jharkhand.
His book Mission Saranda, which was released at the JNU in New Delhi, highlights the plight of tribal villagers in Saranda, one of the largest Sal tree forests in India. The book is critical of the destruction of the forests by mining companies.
Another tribal rights activist, Dayamani Barla, condemned the incident and said the government was answerable to Dungdung.
“The government should give clear reasons for impounding his passport. It is unfair to offload a person from a flight and not even give a valid reason for the action,” said Barla.
The ministry of external affairs had not released a statement on the matter by the time this report was filed.