Dantewada, 4 January,2017:
The CHHATTISGARH special Court (Naxal) rejected the bail petition of the seven activists, lawyers and research scholars who were arrested from Telangana on 25th December,2016
The FIR 0/2016 filed against them accused them of helping naxalites covert currency, carrying banned literature under section 8(1)(2)(3)(5) of CHHATTISGARH Special Public Security Act 2005(CSPA)
The senior High Court advocate from Telangana, V Raghunath, arguing for the defendants submitted to the court that the accusation of exchange of currency for naxalites does not hold as the detained persons were being accused of carrying old demonetised currency in 500s and 1000s amounting to one lakh. He said that if the intention was to help naxalites, they would be carrying new notes not the old ones.Till December 30, 2016 then, and now till, 31 March 2017, it is not illegal to possess old currency.
After repeated questioning by the honourable judge, the police read out the list of seizures from the accused in the court, specially the literature allegedly found on them. Raghunath pointed out to the court that the literature allegedly found on them at the time of arrest were all widely sold in the market and read by many as it is not banned. Raghunath also placed before the court, Supreme Court judgements that clearly held that mere membership in banned organization or possession of literature are in themselves not a crime.
He argued that according to CSPSA,2005 section 8(4), the police are required to take written permission from the Superintendent of Police before undertaking any investigation into cases under the draconian CSPSA. In this instance, the FIR states that the persons were arrested at 8:30 am on 25-12-2016, and proceeds to mention the investigation done and seizures made without prior permission of the Superintendent of Police. This makes the case fundamentally flawed and the arrests illegal.
The CHHATTISGARH government is perpetrating heinous human rights violations against the ADIVASIS in several district of the state specially in Bastar region. Instead of alleviating the socio-economic distress of the adivasi community, the state has chosen to hunt down social activists who bring out state sponsored atrocities. Several journalists, academics, lawyers, and rights activists have either been silenced or driven out of CHHATTISGARH state over last few years.
The present case of arrest of Ch Prabhaker, B Ravindranath, both Telangana state high Court advocates, B Durgaprasad, journalist, D Prabhaker, President of KNPS, Andhra Pradesh,R Lakshmaiah, gen sec Adivasi Tudum Debba, Rajendra Prasad and Nazeer, both research scholars, all of whom were on factfinding visit to CHHATTISGARH, is another such attempt to discourage public scrutiny of state repression of adivasis.
We demand unconditional release of the seven activists arrested and detained under the draconian CHHATTISGARH Special Public Security Act 2005, in view of the serious procedural lapses and untenable accusations.
1.N.Narayanarao, Telangana Democratic Forum convener, and CLC gen sec.
2.M.Kumaraswamy, Civil Liberties Committee, joint sec, Telangana state
3 B Savitri, Committe for the Release of Political Prisoners
4 Vattam Upendra, Adivasi Thudum Debba.
5. Kusuma Kumari, KNPS.
6. Soni Sori, Adivasi Social activist.
7.Bela Bhatia, Independent researcher and human rights activist
8.Padmaja Shaw, academician
9.Lingaram Kodopi.Adivasi social worker and journalist
10.Family members of seven detained activists
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Denying of bail to the members of fact finding team is regrettable. This is undemocratic and their constitutional rights must be respected and given importance