Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG) is a group of young lawyers that provided legal aid and access to the judicial machinery to the adivasi community and the village poor in Chhattisgarh.
This work involved not only representing them in courts of law, but also ensuring incidents such as mass sexual violence against villagers by security forces were documented and reported.
They represented those whom no one else would because of the political sensitivity and risk involved.
The last week has seen unprecedented repression against JagLAG and against those speaking out against state violence in this region, including social activists such as Malini Subramanium and Soni Sori.
Last week, the local Bar Association, at the instance of the police, banned JagLAG from practicing in local courts.
When the State Bar Association stayed this, the police detained their poor landlord for a night and pressurized him into evicting JagLAG members.
We, the members of Indian Legal Aid & Awareness Network (ILAAN) are appalled by the constant persecution faced by the JagLAG and the complicity of the state and police forces in it.
We condemn the violation of their right to practice the law and the obstruction of their efforts to promote avowed constitutional goals of legal aid and access to justice in a region of turmoil.
We condemn the action that shall result in the denial of legal aid to those who need it the most, those that no lawyer in the region would represent given the political situation.
Recognizing the difficulties faced by legal aid lawyers across India and especially in remote areas such as Jagdalpur where JagLAG has been rendering such yeoman service, we stand in admiration and solidarity with Isha Khandelwal, Shalini Gera, Devesh Agnihotri and everyone else involved with JagLAG.
Indian Legal Aid and Awareness Network (ILAAN) is a network of legal services clinic across the country.