Following the arrest of a seven member fact-finding team of the Telangana Democratic Front (TDF) by the Chhattisgarh police on Monday, activists have 'strongly condemned' the incident.
The team was reportedly travelling to Chhattisgarh, to look into complaints of human rights violations on adivasis in the area.
The seven people have been identified as Balla Ravindranath, Chikkudu Prabhakar - both advocates, Durga Prasad - a journalist, Duddu Prabhaker - President, AP Kula Nirmulana Poratta Samiti, and three research scholars from Osmania University, Rajendra Prasad, Nazeer and R Lakshman.
The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), along with activists of the TDF alleged that the team of lawyers, journalists and human rights activists were first arrested by the Telangana police and later handed over to the Chhattisgarh police.
"After holding them under arrest till about 6.00 pm on December 25, the Telangana police took the seven arrested persons across the border and handed them over to Chhattisgarh police at Kunta Police Station on the same day. It is learnt that in the morning of December 26, all the seven persons were produced before the remanding Court in Sukma and remanded to custody," says a statement by PUCL.
However, the police claimed that the activists were arrested from Dharmapenta village in Sukma district, and belonged to intellectual wings of Maoists outfits.
‚ÄúThey have been booked under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. Banned literature, books, and Rs 1 lakh in cash have been recovered from them. They have been produced in the court. We are opposing their bail application,‚ÄĚ Additional Superintendent of Police, Sukma, Jitendra Shukla told The Hindu.
"PUCL expresses shock at the brazen abuse of the law committed by both Telangana state police and the Chhattisgarh police...Such acts of highhandedness and flagrant abuse of law is only possible when the state promises the police total impunity and protection from any prosecution for abuse of law," the PUCL statement added.
The Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act has been heavily criticised in the past for being 'draconian', with activists alleging that it authorises police to detain a person who shows a ‚Äútendency to pose an obstacle to the administration of law‚ÄĚ.