Chandrakala‘s detention at her parent’s home (Village Manpur West, Rampur Road, Haldwani, Dist Nainital) since around 8 am on Feb 3 got over in the afternoon. The police left with a laptop, her pen drive, some innocuous magazines, pamphlets, books, and what they have described in the seizure list as “photocopies,” which could be, as per a report which we have, some personal letters sent by Prashant Rahi through their mutual jail friends while they were in different jails of Uttarakhand during 2009-10 in the same case, after which she was first released and then remained in touch from outside till Prashant was released in late 2011, which she had erroneously not destroyed as yet.
Some of the seized pamphlets were those published as part of an ongoing Asemby election exposure campaign by Uttarakhand Mahila Manch, a broad front of progressive, democratic women, which she was currently intensely involved in. The rest were printed copies of “Marxwaad Kya Hai?” translated into Hindi from the English version written by an independent Marxist by the name of Ramesh Berry, a 75-year old advocate based at Dehradun.
The laptop was not her own, but an old laptop left behind by an activist colleague. On its new hard disk, she had a fair amount of study material, that may also have had to do with her political interests, inclinations and research. All her research material for her PhD thesis in Political Sciences on “The status of Uttarakhand women’s right to property inheritance,” for which she had registered at Kumaon University, Nainital, around 2012-13, some 2-3 years after her release on bail, was also lost in the police raid with the laptop and pen drive. This included the findings of all her recent field work, which she had been trying hard to concentrate upon, even as her political and social activities with Uttarakhand Mahila Manch, the broad platform of Uttarakhandi women, and as a leading part of a recent agitation jointly with other democratic and extra-parliamentary left organisation and groups against the rising barbaric atrocities on women in and around Haldwani were also very intense over the last few weeks.
She was for the last few weeks living with her old and sick parents, tending to them as well, as they required her attention off and on, while her brothers worked and lived with their respective unitary families in other parts of the country. She is now also being targetted within the highly patriarchal family for bringing on the wrath of the police and defiling the family image in the village, regardless of the fact that she has yet no means of her own to be able to set up her own place independently, from where she could go and look after her otherwise unaided parents whenever their insistence could no longer be ignored while one is openly available.
On Feb 3 , the police raid at this house was not the first. There was one during an earlier clampdown in Uttarakhand also, in the morning of December 20, 2007 (the same time as today) when Prashant Rahi after being picked up 3 days before at Dehradun was still under illegal detention, being tortured, and his formal arrest not yet made (it was later made out on the 22nd), as has been well reported in a PUDR (Delhi) – PUCL (Uttarakhand) joint fact-finding report, available on the PUDR website.
It was learnt latery that she was only the first to be targetted among a set of 7 people identified by the Uttarakhand police for such search-n-seize operations. The warrant, it is reported, allows the police to exercise the impunity of raiding the houses of 7 persons who have previously been identified as “involved in Maoist activities” or known to “have faith in the Maoist ideology.” It may be noted that the court issuing the warrant has blatantly given the police the power to raid the houses of people and harass them and their family members on the basis of their ideological belief and previous involvement in activities, even if such involvement might actually have been disproved by an even higher court ( through acquittals by Sessions and/or rejection of government appeal against acquittals by HC) or yet on trial (at Sessions) and therefore not proved as yet.
The sudden clampdown has come in connection with posters (in all probability for something as innocuous as calling for a boycott of Assembly elections) put up on 31st January in the rural or remote town area under one, Dhari Police Station in the Nainital district by a local Maoist group which goes by the name of Uttarakhand Special Area Co-ordination, CPI (Maoist), which, it is learnt, has been functioning independent of any higher committee for the last 5-6 years. This time they are also reported to have made an attempt, though unsuccessful, to burn up a Government vehicle of the local Tehsil. It is in connection with a case registered against this incident that 7 persons are being targetted and, as the police claims, licensed by the local magistrate’s court to raid houses and seize belongings of suspected Maoists.
The next person’s house to be raided, in the evening was one, Jeevan Chandra, another soft target. A person hailing from a dalit family, Jeevan, along with Chandrakala, have for long been at the forefront of a number of peoples’ movements in Uttarakhand, and both have earned reasonable respect and support from a large number of activists across the left and democratic political spectrum. Jeevan was recently acquitted in 5 cases imposed upon him and 5 others for an earlier series of postering resorted to by the same Maoist group some years ago. He was acquitted along with 4 others in another case registered much earlier in 2005, which had to do with activities attributed to the Uttarakhand Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist) which is learnt to have functioned under the CC and 3USAC of the CPI (Maoist).
Chandrakala, however, is still facing a trial under sections 121, 121, 124 A, 153B, 120B IPC and 20 UAPA (of 2004) at the District and Sessions court in Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand in a fake case (the December 2007 one related to a Maoist training camp) attributed to the same Uttarakhand Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist), along with Prashant Rahi and 2 others, all of whom have long been out on bail.
In the recent Dhari incident, no arrest has been made as yet. Details of the FIR are not known.