Joint statement issued by intellectuals and human rights activists against the arrests being conducted under the guise of Maoist hunt

Condemn the spate of arrests in Kerala under the UAPA! Demand the immediate, unconditional release of arrested activists!

On 15 February 2013, CK Gopalan, a former State Council member of the Porattam organization, was picked up and arrested from Wayanad by the Kerala police on the charge that he possessed posters and notice printed to commemorate the Comrade Verghese Martyrdom Day.

For the last 42 years, several Marxist- Leninist groups including Porattam, and other mass organizations have observed Comrade Verghese Martyrdom Day in memory of a leader who was shot point-blank by the police during an anti-Naxalite operation. Although Porattam had police permission to observe this day, C.K.Gopalan was arrested and charged under sec.153(b) of I.P.C. It is learned that procedure to book him under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is in progress. Another three activists, Shanto Lal, Vinod and Usman were also picked up from Mananthavadi and also charged under s.39(1) a(1)of UAPA on the allegation that these activists were campaigning for furthering the activities of CPI(maoist).These three detenues are members of porattam and they werearrestted while protesting against the sudden ban of there com.varghese martyrdom day public meeting.

Another activist Ismail was arrested from Malappuram on 20 February 2013.He was taken to Kozhikode and after hours long interrogation he was released. Swapnesh Babu, an artist who works withNjattuvela, a cultural organisation was arrested on 21 February 2013. This has been the latest arrest so far. He is also charged under s.39(1)a(1) of UAPA and s.153(b)of IPC.

We also like to point out that Porattam, the mass organization whose members have been subjected to arrrest from various parts of the state, is not even a banned organization in Kerala, or any part of India. All these arrests under the UAPA seem to have been primarily made with the aim of creating a Maoism scare in the state.

Recently, on 29 December 2012, the Kerala police arrested seven activists from a lodge in Mavellikkara on the allegation that they were Maoists. Those detained for suspected Maoist links also included two children who were subsequently released. The other five, including a well-known civil liberties activist Scientist Gopal, are now lodged in prisons in Kerala and cases have been framed under the UAPA in their case too.

These arbitrary and baseless arrests cannot be dismissed as mere diversionary tactics of the state machinery. One has to understand this in the context of Operation Green Hunt. The global war on terror is the military movement of globalization, and in this framework, Wayanad in Kerala is strategically important. These arrests are a pre-emptive action to quell any future dissent in Wayanad where several big projects like the aerodram,cricket stadium,and private medical college, have been planned and where there could be widespread eviction of people from that region.

The usage of a draconian law like the UAPA to silence dissent, to deny the freedom of expression, to victimize members of leftist organizations, and to threaten people’s movements deserves to be condemned. We, the undersigned rights activists, writers, artists, and others, condemn these arbitrary arrests under the UAPA and request the police to immediately and unconditionally release the arrested activists and drop all the charges against them.

K Satchidanandan
Anand Patwardhan
Meena Kandasamy
A Vasu
J Devika
B R P Bhaskar
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
K P Sethunath
C S Murali
P A Pouran
Thushar Nirmal Sarathy