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11 Sep 2011

People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi (PUDR) condemns in the strongest terms the arrest of Lingaram Kodopi on 9 September 2011 by the Chhattisgarh police from his village Sameli in Dantewada district. The police team continues to be present in the village since then and there is fear that the police intends to arrest his aunt Soni Sori too. This arrest comes immediately on the heels of the Chhattisgarh government’s attempt to undermine the Supreme Court order disbanding the practice of exploiting SPOs to fight the Maoists.

Lingaram Kodopi was picked up by the Chhattisgarh police from his village in September 2009 and kept in illegal detention for 40 days. During this period he was tortured to force him to become an SPO. A habeas corpus petition was filed by his brother Masaram Kodopi in the High Court. It was due to the court’s intervention that Lingaram was released and allowed to return to his village.

Since then Lingaram has been in Delhi much of the time and has also enrolled in a journalism course at the International Media Institute of India at Noida. In April 2010 he had appeared before the Indian Peoples Tribunal at Delhi on the atrocities being conducted by the Salwa Judum and the security forces as part of the Operation Green Hunt.

On 11 July 2010, the Senior Superintendent of Police of Dantewada district held a press conference to alleging that Lingaram was the prime suspect for the attack on the house of Congress worker and civil contractor Avdesh Singh Gautam. The police also made ridiculous claims that Lingaram was the Chattisgarh Incharge of the CPI Maoist and was tipped to succeed as the Central Spokesperson of the CPI Maoist party.

Lingaram held a press conference at Delhi on 13 July 2010 with Advocate Prashant Bhushan and the then peace negotiator Swami Agnivesh and publicly stated how he was tortured and was now being victimised by the Chhattisgarh police.

The arrest of Lingaram on 9 September is an attempt by the Chhattisgarh police to declare their total contempt for the Constitution of India and the established law of the land.

PUDR demands an immediate and unconditional release of Lingaram Kodopi and the withdrawal of police and security forces from his village.

Paramjit Singh and Harish Dhawan