Arrest of Fact Finding Team Members by Telangana Police – CDRO, PUCL Statements

December 29, 2016

Update: On January 3, the bail of 7 TDF FFT members who were arrested was rejected by the District Court, Dantewada.

Jan 4: Statement of Front Line Defenders on bail rejection

1. CDRO Statement

2. PUCL Statement

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Statement of Front Line Defenders on bail rejection

4 January 2017

India – Arrest and judicial harassment against seven human rights defenders of the Telangana Democratic Front

On 3 January 2017, the seven human rights defenders of the Telangana Democratic Front (TDF) fact finding team were denied bail by a district court in Dantewada, South Chhattisgarh. The seven human rights defenders were arrested by the Chhattisgarh police on 25 December 2016 and charged on 26 December 2016 under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act for allegedly possessing banned currency notes and Maoist literature.

The seven human rights defenders are all members of the fact finding team of the Telangana Democratic Forum (TDF). The TDF fact finding team was travelling to Chhattisgarh to investigate complaints of human rights violations committed against the indigenous tribal group Adivasis, including extra-judicial killings by security forces in the Chhattisgarh state, located in central India. There has been a long-term conflict between Maoists and government security forces which has greatly affected the indigenous people in the area. The seven human rights defenders are Balla Ravindranath, a lawyer and the general secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), Chikkudu Prabhaker, a lawyer, Durga Prasad, an independent journalist in Hyderabad, Duddu Prabhakar, the president of AP Kula Nirmulana Porata Samiti (Committee for Caste Annihilation), Rajendra Prasad and Nazeer, who are both research scholars from Osmania University and members of Telangana Vidhyarthi Vedika (Telangana Students Forum) and Ramanala Laxmaiyya, a research scholar from Osmania University..

On 3 January 2017, a district court in Dantewada, South Chhattisgarh, rejected the bail of all seven members of the TDF fact finding team. The TDF team are currently appealing the decision with the High Court in Dantewada. According to the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA), 2005 section 8(4), the police are required to receive written permission from the Superintendent of Police before undertaking any investigation into cases under the CSPSA. As the the investigation and arrests of the seven human rights defenders were carried out without receiving prior permission from the Superintendent of Police, they are illegal.

On 24 December 2016, the TDF team was traveling to Sukma to investigate complaints of human rights violations on the indigenous tribal group Adivasis. Around 9:30 a.m., the Telangana police arrested them in Dummugudem village, Khamman district and  held them under arrest until the following day. At around 7 p.m on 25 December 2016, they were transferred to the Chhattisgarh police at Kunta Police Station. In the morning of 26 December 2016, the TDF team were presented before the court in Sukma and remanded in custody.  A criminal case was filed against the seven human rights defenders under the Chhattisgarh State Special Public Security Act, sections 8(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) for allegedly assisting the Maoists and possessing banned currency notes and Maoist literature.

Human rights defenders in Chhattisgarh state have faced intensifying acts of intimidation, assault and persecution in the course of their legitimate and peaceful human rights work. On 8 February 2016, the home of human rights defender Ms Malini Subramaniam in Jagdalpur city was attacked by unknown assailants. The attack followed months of harassment of the human rights defender by the government and police authorities of Chhattisgarh state. On 20 February 2016, Ms Soni Sori was attacked by three unidentified men in the state of Chhattisgarh.

Front Line Defenders expresses grave concern at the arrest of the seven human rights defenders of Telangana Democratic Front and the charges against them, which it believes as solely motivated by their peaceful and legitimate work in human rights, and in particular their efforts to seek justice for abuses committed by security forces in the Chhattisgarh state.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in India to:

1. Immediately drop all charges against the seven members of Telangana Democratic Front (TDF);

2. Immediately and unconditionally release the seven members of Telangana Democratic Front (TDF);

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

 

 

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COORDINATION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS (CDRO)

PRESS RELEASE

Date: 28-12-2016

CDRO strongly condemn the arrest of 7 member Fact Finding team by the Telangana police at Dummagudem village of Bhadrachalam district on 25th December 27, 2016 at 6 pm and in turn handing over them to the Sukma Police (Chhatttisgarh State).

We also strongly object the way the the Sukma Police foisted a false case 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 Fact Finding Team are leading activists of the democratic mass organizations and they have been in public life since three decades in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh States.

Very recently, Telangana Democratic front has been formed 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 and journalist and students are associated with 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 the incidents of Police excesses and extra judicial killings . The members of the Team are: Chikkudu Prabhakar(Advocate) ; Bhalla Ravindranath(Advocate,HighCourt,AP);DurgaPrasad(Journalist);DudduPrabhakar(President,KNPS,AP) ;Rajendra Prasad ( student leader, Telangana vidyarthi vedika);Nazeer( Student leader ,Telangan Vidyarthi vedika) and Ramananda Laskhme ( Stutent organizer).

When Fact Finding team planning to proceed to Sukma they were taken into custody and latter handed over to Sukma Police. And the next day they were produced in the court . The police misled the court by making false allegations that they are Naxalites and they had come there to aid the activities of the Maoists. A criminal case has been filed against the members of Fact Finding team under section 8 of the draconian Chhatissgarh Public Secruity Act. These sections empowers the police to brand any person or organization as unlawful.We suspect that both Telanana and Chhattisgarh Police in connivance intended to delegitimize the democratic activity and portray it as criminal activity and harass them by false cases.

In the recent past we have witnessed that vicious attitude of the DGP Kalluri towards human rights activists and he almost banned the entry of human rights defender in to Bastar area.A false murder case was filed against Nandini Sunder and others and the Journallist Malini Subramanyam was harassed and intimidated by the vigilante groups and forced her to leave Jagadalpur. Defending human rights is democratic right and not a criminal activity.Criminalising Human Rights activity by the police is against law and democracy. Right of know the truth in extra judicial killings and disappearances has been recognized as a fundamental right of the citizen by the International law and the Indian Constitution.

We therefore condemn the attitude and actions of the Telangana and Chhattisgarh Police and demand withdrawal of false cases foisted against the activists and release them immediately. We also urge all the democratic forces and Rights Organization 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).

Constituent Organizations: 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 Civil Rights (PUCR), Haryana, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR),Tamilnadu.