7 Telangana Rights Activists Languishing In Chhattisgarh Jail
Gadchiroli: Seven rights activists from Telangana have been languishing in Chhattisgarh jail for three months. They include journalists and lawyers. The delegation of Telangana Democratic Forum went there to study encounters and atrocities in Chhattisgarh. They were arrested on their way by the police from Chhattisgarh and produced in a court in December 26 last year. The government had alleged that the rights activists are helping Maoists. The court has sent them to judicial custody. They were lodged in Sukuma jail.
Their plea for bail was rejected. The Dantewada district court also rejected the bail petition. But the defence counsels were not given the Panchanama report or the items they claimed to have recovered from the accused.
Durga Prasad (36 years), a social worker from Hyderabad, R Laxmaiah (45), Secretary, Khammam unit of Tudum Debba, B Prabhakara Rao (52), a journalist, Rajendra Prasad (28), another journalist, Chikkudu Prabhakar (48), a High Court advocate, B Ravindranath (42), another HC advocate and Mohammad Nizam, Osmania University research scholar and a leader of Telangana Students Forum, set out for Chhattisgarh on December 24 from Hyderabad. The group was taken into custody by Telangana police at Dummugudem in Bhadrachalam district on December 25. Then they were handed over to the Chattisgarh police, according to civil liberties leaders. The four motor bikes in which they were travelling, one lakh worth of banned notes, mobile phones, Maoist literature were seized from them as claimed by Chhattisgarh police. The police alleged that these persons were trying to help the Maoists in converting the old currency notes into new by bringing pressure on the local traders.
In fact, the police have been suppressing the voice of the rights activists for more than one year during which there were a number of encounters, atrocities on tribal women and police excesses in the Moist influenced areas like Bastar. The people’s organisations have been complaining that the journalists in Chhattisgarh face a number of hurdles and harassment while discharging their duties. A number of cases were foisted on journalists and rights activists for raising the issues of atrocities and false encounters. The rights organisations wrote letters to National Human Rights Forum and the Supreme Court.
In the encounters carried out by security forces in Chhattisgarh in 2016, the number of persons killed was 134. Three instances of sexual abuse by the security forces came into light. The activists planned to visit Netpal village in Bijapur district to study the encounter death of 13-year old boy Somaru Pottam. The boy was killed and branded as a Maoist, alleged the activists. The boy’s father had filed a petition in Bijapur district court. He alleged that his son was tied to a tree and killed by firing point blank in presence of the villagers. The Bilaspur High Court had ordered that post-mortem should be conducted on the boy’s body. On December 25, the body was exhumed and post-mortem done.
The members of Telangana Democratic Front (TDF) who wanted to find the facts regarding the allegations were arrested and put in jail. The advocate who was appearing for the activists, Shalini Gera, was accused by the SP in Bastar RN Das of converting Rs 10 lakh worth of fake notes and meeting the Maoists. She was threatened that her whereabouts on December 26 are being probed and that she will have to go to police station to cooperate in the investigations. The advocate had filed a petition in High Court on behalf of the parents of the boy who was brutally killed.
Professor Nandini Sunder of Delhi University and Professor Archana Prasad of JNU and some others were charged with a murder in Sukuma. The police said they filed the case basing on a complaint given by the wife of the person who was killed on November 4. Nandini was instrumental in getting the Supreme Court to pass the order to dismantle Salvajudum, a private army encouraged by governments in Chhattisgarh to counter the Maoists. There were reports rhat the police had threatened and harassed tribal rights activist Sukul Prasad Barse for holding a meeting with tribals at Dantewada in December 19. Sony Sori, Adivasi rights activist who contested in the last elections, was asked to leave the place. She had to leave Bastar under duress. Prabhat Singh, TV journalist, and Deepak Jaiswal, a newspaper reporter, were arrested last year. Some more reporters had left Chhattisgarh on account of threats and harassment by the police.