CDRO strongly condemns the arrest of a 7 member Fact Finding team by the Telangana police at Dummagudem village of Bhadrachalam district on 25th December, 2016 at 6 pm and in turn handing them over to the Sukma Police (Chhattisgarh State). We also strongly object to the way Sukma Police foisted false cases against the Fact Finding team members under Sections 8(1),(2) (3)and (5) of the Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act. All the members of the Fact Finding Team are activists of democratic mass organizations and they have been in public life for three decades in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Telangana Democratic Front (TDF) was formed recently to protect and defend the democratic rights of people and fight for basic demands of the people in Telangana State. Well known and respected persons, academics, former High Court judges, advocates, journalist and students are associated with the Telangana Democratic Front (TDF).
As part of their activity, the following persons constituted a Fact Finding team to probe into human rights violations in Chhattisgarh State, particularly incidents of Police excesses and extra judicial killings. The members of the Team are: Chikkudu Prabhakar(Advocate), Bhalla Ravindranath (Advocate, High Court, AP), Durga Prasad(Journalist), Duddu Prabhakar (President, KNPS, AP), Rajendra Prasad(Student leader, Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika), Nazeer(Student leader, Telangan Vidyarthi Vedika) and Ramananda Laskhme (Student organizer).
When the Fact Finding team was planning to proceed to Sukma they were taken into custody by the Telangana police and later handed over to the Sukma Police. And the next day they were produced in the Court. The police misled the court by making false allegations against the team members by calling them Naxalites and further stated that the Fact Finding team had come there to aid the activities of the Maoists. A criminal case has been filed against the members of the Fact Finding team under section 8 of the draconian Chhattisgarh Public Security Act. These sections empower the police to brand any person or organization as unlawful. We suspect that both Telangana and Chhattisgarh Police in connivance intend to delegitimize and criminalize democratic activity by implicating the team members in false cases and harassing them.
In the recent past we have witnessed that vicious attitude of the DGP Kalluri towards human rights activists. Under his command the entry of human rights defenders into the Bastar area has become extremely difficult. Recently a false murder case was filed against Nandini Sundar and others and the journalist Malini Subramanyam was harassed and intimidated by vigilante groups thus forcing her to leave Jagadalpur. Defending human rights is a democratic right and not a criminal activity. Criminalisation of human rights activity by the police is against law and democracy. The right to know the truth behind extra judicial killings and disappearances has been recognized as a fundamental right of every citizen by International law and the Indian Constitution.
We therefore condemn the attitude and actions of the Telangana and Chhattisgarh Police and demand the withdrawal of false cases foisted against the activists and demand they be immediately released. We also urge all the democratic forces and Rights Organizations to speak out and stand with us in solidarity.
C. Chandrasekhar (CLC, Andhra Pradesh), Asish Gupta (PUDR, Delhi), Pritpal Singh (AFDR, Punjab), Phulendro Konsam (COHR, Manipur) and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal) (Coordinators of CDRO).
Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR), Punjab; Association for Protection of Democratic Rights APDR), West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (BMC), West Bengal; Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur(CPDM), Delhi; Civil Liberties Committee (CLC), Andhra Pradesh; Civil Liberties Committee,(CLC)Telengana; Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), Mumbai; Coordination for Human Rights (COHR), Manipur; Human Rights Forum (HRF), Andhra Pradesh; Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR), Jharkhand; Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS), Assam; Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Organization for Protection of Democratic Rights (OPDR), Andhra Pradesh; Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR), Jammu and Kashmir; Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF), Karnataka; Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi; Peoples Union for Human Rights (PUHR), Haryana, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR),Tamil Nadu.
28th December 2016