Several activists of human rights and civil society groups have been charged under UAPA for their alleged links with Maoists.

In Andhra rights groups accuse cops of foisting false cases against themImage for representation | PTI
news Human Rights Monday, December 14, 2020 - 18:08

Civil society and human rights organisations in Andhra Pradesh have alleged that the state government is attempting to foist false criminal cases against some activists. On December 9, Piduguralla police in Guntur district arrested Valugutra Anjaneyulu from Madanapalle of Chittoor, accusing him of being a member of an organisation associated with the banned CPI (Maoist) party. According to police, during the course of the interrogation, 36-year-old Anjaneyulu confessed that he was working with Pragatisheela Karmika Samakya (PKS), which is an "affiliate" group of the banned CPI Maoist party. He was booked under, at least, 10 sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA, besides as many as eight sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 

According to the police remand report, Anjaneyulu confessed that a few activists, in the name of fact-finding, are acting against the Uranium mining plant at Kadapa and Gandikota reservoir, based on the instructions from Maoist party leader Akkiraju Haragopal alias RK. He allegedly named Kakumani Jayashree, vice president of Human Rights Forum (HRF) and several other activists like Chiluka Chandrashekar, Busireddy Kondareddy, Yadala Venkateshwarlu, Duddu Prabhakar, Koti and others from a collective of different civil society organisations. Anjaneyulu reportedly stated that Jayashree of HRF has allegedly been giving speeches to provoke the people against the government projects and thereby recruiting youth into Maoism in Rayalaseema region, as assigned by the Maoist party.

Anjaneyulu is an accused in a case where the Guntur District Rural Police arrested Kambhampati Chaitanya in Piduguralla, on November 24, on the suspicion that he was working for the Maoists. In this case, the police named as many as 27 persons, including several activists of rights groups, including VS Krishna, HRF coordinator for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh State Civil Liberties Committee state General secretary Chiluka Chandrasekhar.

A few days prior to that, on November 22, the Vishakapatnam police arrested a TV journalist, identified as  Pongi Naganna, on the charges of being a ‘courier’ for the Maoists. They also slapped UAPA [Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act] charges in the case on 64 activists representing various civil society groups, including Dalits and women’s groups. VS Krishna, too, was booked under UAPA sections on the charges of "instigating" tribal women who were allegedly raped by members of armed Greyhounds, an anti-Naxal police force in 2007.

READ: Andhra human rights activist fighting for Adivasi rape survivors booked under UAPA

In both cases, the first information report (FIR) was registered based on the complaint of police officials.  

Rights organisations have dubbed these arrests as an attempt to frame the human rights functionaries. HRF, in a statement, said that the police are trying to implicate Jayashree on "absurd charges". It has further called the contents of incriminating "confession" statements “purely fictional”.

"These tiring old methods of trying to suppress dissent need to be dismissed with the contempt they deserve; they have no place in the kind of civilised and democratic society we aspire to be," a statement from HRF read. 

Jayasree, a founding member of the HRF and resident of Proddatur in Kadapa district, has consistently highlighted rights violations and worked towards their redressal, said HRF. "Her activism has been directed at exposing failures of the government, whether of the Telugu Desam Party or the current ruling dispensation. She has campaigned against mining for uranium by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) at Thummalapalle in Vemula mandal of Kadapa district and ongoing UCIL plans to expand mining."

READ: Uranium mine in Andhra's Kadapa to be expanded: Activists question move

The rights organisation also alleged that the police are trying to scuttle by seeking to implicate her while stating that obtaining a "concocted" confession from an accused in another case (November 24) is the first step in that direction. 

Condemning the arrests, Andhra Pradesh State Civil Liberties Committee state General secretary Chiluka Chandrasekhar, said, “The state government is framing human rights activists at the behest of the Union government. The UAPA itself is anti-constitutional and blatantly violates Article 19, which guarantees freedom of expression. The state government should scrap all cases booked against rights activists under UAPA."

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