PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
Founder: Jayaprakash Narayan
The news of the sentencing of Seema Azad, along with her husband Vishwavijay Kamal, charged under Sections 121, 121A and 120B of IPC and also under the relevant provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for possessing objectionable literature, to life imprisonment by a court at Allahabad on 8 June 2012 has come as a shock to the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and thousands of human rights workers all over the country.
Seema Azad, a grassroots journalist and a well known civil liberties activist belonging to the UP State Branch of the PUCL, was returning after attending a book fair in New Delhi along with her husband when they were arrested by the Special Task Force on February 6, 2010 from the Allahabad station, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for their alleged links with Maoist organizations. The only evidence provided was a book carried by Seema Azad containing information on Maoist politics. From then on, they have been detained in custody, and have been refused bail.
It is clear to human rights activists that Seema Azad and her husband were charged under the draconian laws for political reasons. She has relentlessly raised her voice against local scams and injustices, denouncing the working condition of mining workers, exposing the practices of the local mafia and its nexus with the police force. She also edited a bi-monthly magazine – Dastak – and used it as a platform to publicize all the wrongs around her.
“On a number of occasions, she (Seema Azad) had taken up the cudgels on behalf of poor labourers and exposed the nexus between the police and the illegal contractors, who used to deploy labourers for unauthorised mining of stone or sand in various regions of Uttar Pradesh, particularly the Sonbhadra district,” PUCL UP Vice-President Ram Kumar said in a statement.
It has become a trend for the governments to book those, who criticize their anti-people policies and expose the misdeeds of politicians-police-bureaucrats and mafia nexus or give voice to the exploited, suffering, disinherited masses, under the most stringent laws, brand them as anti-national or Maoists and keep their voices muzzled by incarcerating them. What is even more miserable is that the judiciary, which is supposed to be the protector of the freedom and liberties of the people, also fails to do so. And the worst is that those who book innocent people on false and concocted charges always go unpunished even when higher courts reverse the judgment and set them free, of course, when they have already spent several years of their prime life in prisons. Seema Azad and her husband’s case has again brought these questions into focus and for all freedom loving people and human rights workers to take up the cause.
The PUCL plans to hold a convention shortly and also carry out a campaign for the release and justice of Seema Azad with other organisations.
Mahi Pal Singh
National Secretary, PUCL
- Seema Azad Yearns For Freedom (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Letter to the NHRC- Seema Azad Case (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Verdict on Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay: A pattern of judicial connivance to arbitrariness of the state in dealing with dissent (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Seema Azad, journalist, human rights worker and her husband sentenced to life for waging war against India (kractivist.wordpress.com)