Activists protest imprisonment of Indian journalist


Supporters of Lingaram Kodopi and his aunt gathered in New York’s Union Square on October 4. (CPJ/Sumit Galhotra)

A couple dozen activists gathered this past week in New York City’s Union Square to protest the imprisonment of freelance journalist Lingaram Kodopi and his aunt Soni Sori, who were arrested one year ago in India.

According to local human rights activists and journalists, authorities wanted to prevent Kodopi from publicizing the role of police in violence in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, where security forces and Maoists are at war. In April 2011, the 26-year-old journalist documented the destruction of houses during an anti-Maoist police operation in three Dantewada district villages and “recorded on video precise narrations of police atrocities,” Tehelka reported. Kodopi was charged with anti-state activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act and sections 121, 124A and 120B of the Indian Penal Code for criminal conspiracy, sedition, and waging war against the state.

The New York protest was organized by the Association for India’s Development and the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, and endorsed by groups like Amnesty International USA. Demonstrators gathered near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

Prachi Patankar, a member of the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, told CPJ, “While based here we can internationalize the issue. Journalists–not just in India–but elsewhere face similar challenges from their governments.”  The event has sparked a sense of curiosity, she said.

Activists noted that Kodopi and his aunt have been tortured in prison.  According to Telheka, Kodopi was beaten and held in a police toilet for 40 days. According to Human Rights Watch, Sori has been sexually assaulted and beaten. The government has failed to take action against those responsible for their torture, and the two remain in custody awaiting trial.

“It’s a very dangerous climate,” prominent Indian activist Himanshu Kumar told CPJ at the protest. “Journalists can’t report the truth. And if they dare to report on the reality, the government accuses them of being a Maoist and gives them a hard time, and even imprisons them.” Only the journalists who report the government version can survive, Kumar said.

This is certainly not the first time that authorities in India have targeted the press for shedding light on human rights abuses. In January 2011, police arrested journalist Sudhir Dhawale, who documented human rights violations for the Marathi-language monthly Vidrohi. Like Kodopi, he was charged with sedition and waging war against the state and was also charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Dhawale’s supporters say he was detained because he was a critic of a state-supported, anti-Maoist militia active in Chhattisgarh state, a center of the violence between Maoists and the state. Dhawale remains imprisoned, according to media reports.

Over a month, four ‘terror’ arrests in Indore for ‘shouting slogans’ #draconianlaws


 

Muzamil Jaleel : New Delhi, Thu Sep 27 2012, 03:32 hrs, Indian Express

It’s just not Urdu writings or a magazine copy that can get you booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). In many cases — including five over the course of one month, April 2008, four of them in Indore alone — the script was the same: a mukhbir or informer tipped off police about men “shouting anti-government slogans” outside mosques or in front of their homes, and the men were arrested and then left to battle it out in court.

* September 27, 2001, Solapur

The case was filed on the day the Centre issued its first notification banning SIMI. Assistant Police Inspector Dattatray Bapurao Patil of Sadar Bazar police station noted in the FIR (3824/2001) that he and his team were patrolling when “we found one person Abdul Rehman Ahmad Ali Kalyani had gathered some people in front of Konchikozi galli… After enquiring about the same, we found that the said person was trying to bring together people who support the organisation (SIMI)”. Kalyani, 19, was arrested under the UAPA. While police admitted that nothing incriminating had been found when they searched Kayani’s house, the Maharashtra government, giving sanction for his prosecution, accused him of carrying out SIMI activities aimed at “secession of Maharashtra territory”.

In its affidavits before the UAPA Tribunal, the Maharashtra government has repeatedly said: “The ultimate aim and ideology of SIMI is pan-Islam movement i.e Islam Education of entire India by adopting Nifaq (hatred), Saria (accruing money by adopting illegal means) and Jihad (holy war).” The claim itself is comical. While nifaq means disunity, the word saria has no such known meaning in either Urdu or Arabic.

Incidentally, Kalyani had a case registered against him earlier too, in 2000, for pasting a poster protesting against the Babri Masjid demolition.

* September 28, 2001, Yavatmal

In the FIR (3200/2001), Pusad City police station officer Prakash Laxmanrao Hingmire recorded that he and his team were on patrol when they found Nisar Ahmad Khan, 22; Wakil Ahmad, 29; and Sheikh R Rafique Farouqi, 21, shouting slogans in the Vasant Nagar area near Aqsa masjid. “They were shouting that Bajrang Dal is also a communal organisation and why the government had not imposed a ban on it.” The youths were arrested and booked under the UAPA.

* April 11, 2008, Indore

Juni police station SHO Mohan Singh Yadav noted in the FIR (200/2008) that a mukhbir informed him that Mohammad Shahid alias Billi and Iqbal of Nandanvan Colony, Indore, were standing near Shyam Nagar masjid and “instigating people and doing propaganda against the government”. Yadav said that he, accompanied by a sub-inspector, four constables and a driver, reached the masjid. “We hid ourselves and found two persons standing near the masjid. They were talking in a secret manner with three-four more people… I asked my accompanying staff to encircle them. When they saw the police, they panicked and we arrested them.”

Yadav claimed they only arrested Shahid and Iqbal, the two people who were talking. He said that during inquiry, the two said they were “preparing the people for jihad, that the government had not done well by arresting the leaders of SIMI and they would take revenge”. The FIR also noted that “Iqbal shouted a slogan as well”, and that seven pamphlets were recovered from Shahid’s pockets and six from Iqbal’s. The two “witnesses” the police named as having been present outside the mosque were “Sanjay” and “Sachin”.

Shahid and Iqbal were booked under sections of the IPC and UAPA. A look at the seizure memo reveals that the pamphlets allegedly recovered from them were old SIMI documents and most of them were photocopies.

* April 2, 2008, Indore

Sadar Bazar police station SHO J D Bhonsale said in the FIR (129/2008) that a mukhbir had informed him that Mohammad Irfan Chheepa of Juna Risala, Indore, had gathered people in the compound of a community hall near his house for avenging the arrest of SIMI leaders. “He was also making statements against the government and talking provocative things against society and country which could raise communal passions,” noted the FIR. Bhonsale said he and his team of a sub-inspector, ASI Bhadoriya, a head constable, and five constables arrived at the spot. “We took cover and saw a person with physical features as stated by the informer who had gathered people and had some papers and pamphlets in his hand. He was talking in an excited manner and was telling the people that ‘you people should also join this organisation so that we all unite and establish government of Islam and you should contribute so that we defeat the Hindustan government’.”

SHO Bhonsale said he asked his force to encircle the people, but they could only arrest Chheepa. The seizure memo in the case showed an appeal in Hindi, ostensibly issued by the SIMI, but with ‘Bismillah’ misspelt.

* April 2, 2008, Indore

In the FIR (35/2008), Inspector Prabha Singh Chouhan of Sarafa police station noted that a mukhbir informed her that senior SIMI worker Zakir Lalla was “instigating people against the government” near Nihalpura masjid. She reached the spot with her team and found “Zakir Lala standing near the masjid and shouting loudly, saying ‘What if the government has banned SIMI? I will not let any member of SIMI be arrested and I will give them my full support. We will join together to take revenge from the government for this’.” Chouhan said a large crowd had gathered but the police managed to arrest only Zakir Lala. The books the police claimed to have recovered from Lala were on teachings of the Prophet and other Islamic literature. Lala was arrested and charged under the UAPA.

* April 2, 2008, Indore

In the FIR (101/2008), Chhoti Gwal Toli police station SHO Inspector B L Meena noted that a mukhbir had informed him that “an active member of SIMI, Amman S/O Mohammad Salim, was trying to energise SIMI through propaganda and for this purpose he is distributing anti-government pamphlets at Sarvate bus stand, Indore”. Meena and his team reached the spot and allegedly found Amman “trying to paste a pamphlet on the pillar in the north direction and saying that ‘What if the government has banned SIMI, I am still associated with it and will get many more people to associate with it and help secure the release of SIMI leaders’.” Amman was initially booked under the UAPA, and later also under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

Five months later, Amman was arrested again by the same police station. In this FIR filed on September 19, 2008, Meena again recorded that he “received information from a mukhbir that Amman was standing at the crossing in front of Ganesh Lodge and trying to increase the number of SIMI activists and help secure bail for the arrested SIMI activists, besides distributing anti-government pamphlets”. Meena and his team reached the spot. A large crowd was reportedly present, but again only Amman was arrested and charged under the UAPA.

* April 7, 2008, Guna, MP

In the FIR (104/2008), Chachoda police station SHO L C Shrivas recorded that on April 7, 2008, they received information that SIMI members were planning a meeting at the house of Rafeeq Moulana in Talheti Mohalla. “During the raid, five persons were apprehended.” Incidentally, the arrested persons were Moulana’s close neighbours. Among various things, the police seized cuttings of Dainik Jagran and Nai Dunia newspapers. Later, a copy of an old SIMI pamphlet protesting the Babri Masjid demolition too was allegedly found. For one of those arrested, Abdul Kadir, the seizure memo said they recovered “a letter written in Urdu (issued by) Darul Aloom Rashidia of Mewat in Rajasthan”. The Darul Aloom is a lawful entity and the letter was a note of introduction for a certain Moulvi Mohammad Usman of Papda, Bharatpur, for collection of donations. The police recorded it as “incriminating material”.

 

2 years, 5 cities, 6 cases – and ‘proof’ everywhere is the same magazine #draconianlaws


Muzamil Jaleel : New Delhi, Wed Sep 26 2012,  Indian Express

On April 16, 2006, Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh was tense. There had been communal clashes a week ago during Eid-e-Milad. In the afternoon, policemen from the Kotwali police station arrested two women, 20-year-old Aasiya and 23-year-old Rafia, daughters of one Abdul Hafiz Qureshi. The police, in their seizure memo, claimed to have recovered “incriminating material” from Aasiya — three copies of an April 2004 issue of a Hindi magazine, Tehrik-e-Millat, and a SIMI donation receipt towards “office construction fund” (receipt no. 0033359, dated January 25, 2006) with the name “Kumari Aashiya Khan” in Hindi for an amount of Rs 500.

SIMI was banned in 2001. If an underground outfit issuing a donation receipt for a building on their old stationery seems unlikely, the story of the magazine is even more odd.

All the three copies of Tehrik-e-Millat allegedly recovered from Aasiya have her name written by hand in Hindi as “Aashiya” on the cover. The police also claimed to have seized two copies of Tehrik-e-Millat with “Rafia” written by hand in Hindi on the cover. Tehrik-e-Millat is a fortnightly published from Kota in Rajasthan. Though the Kotwali police station in Khandwa later booked the magazine’s owner-editor M A Naiem, the magazine has never been proscribed.

This is not all. In the space of two years, these same copies of the April 2004 issue of Tehrik-e-Millat — with the names of the Khandwa sisters written by hand on the cover — travelled to at least two other states. Several cases later, the police even started referring to the magazine as “Tehrik Millat Aasiya” and “Tehrik Rafia” in their official records. However, other than their names on the magazines, the two sisters were never mentioned in police records.

July 2006, Pune

After the July 11, 2006, bomb explosions on local trains in Mumbai, the magazine popped up in the chargesheet filed by the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Mumbai. Among the 13 people arrested was Sohail Mehmood Shaikh of Bhimpura, Lashkar, Camp Area Pune, who was held on July 25, 2006. The ATS claimed Sohail went to Pakistan via Iran in November 2002 for arms training with the Lashkar-e-Toiba. They also said a search of Sohail’s house in Bhimpura on July 30, 2006, had led to the recovery of six books including the “April 2004 Tahrik-e-Millat Asia” that had “Aashiya” written by hand on the cover. Police claimed to have recovered the same magazine, with the same handwritten “Aashiya”, during searches at the homes of the other 7/11 accused — Mohd Faisal Ataur Rehman Shaikh of Bandra, Muzzamil Ataur Rehman Shaikh of Mira Road, Jameer Latifur Rehman Shaikh of Vallabhbhai Patel Nagar and Dr Tanvir Ahmad Mohd Ibrahim Ansari of Agripada, all in Mumbai.

July 2006, Mumbai

In an affidavit filed before the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) Tribunal in 2010, Assistant Police Inspector, ATS, Mumbai, Rahimatullah Inayat Sayyed, spoke of Danish Riyaz Shaukat Ali Shaikh, an “active member of SIMI”, who was arrested on July 30, 2006. According to the affidavit, a raid on Shaikh’s home led to the recovery of several Islamic books in Urdu such as Jihad Fi Saabi Illah, Jihad Asghar and Jihadi Fishbilliah, besides ‘Tehrik Millat Aasiya’, the same magazine.

August 2006, Mumbai

According to an affidavit filed by Inspector, DCB, CID, Mumbai, Milind Bhikaji Khetle, a case was registered at Kandivali police station on August 13, 2006, against Mohd Najib Abdul Rashid Bakali and some of his “SIMI associates”. The affidavit said that on August 14, 2006, police seized four SIMI booklets from Bakali’s house. One of the alleged ‘SIMI’ booklets was a copy of the April 2004 issue of the Tehrik-e-Millat magazine with “Aashiya” written by hand in Hindi on its cover.

September 2006, Malegaon

On September 8, 2006, powerful blasts ripped through the Bada Kabaristan area of Malegaon after the Shab-e-Barat prayers, killing 37 people and injuring over 100. An FIR was registered at Azad Nagar Police Station, Malegaon, and Noor-ul-Huda Shamsudoha, a labourer, was arrested under the UAPA for being a SIMI member and for “popularising and publicising” SIMI. During a raid on Noor-ul-Huda’s home at Jafarnagar, police claimed to have seized “objectionable books’’ that included the copy of the April 2004 issue of the Tehrik-e-Millat magazine with “Aashiya” written by hand in Hindi on its cover.

On September 19, 2006, the investigation was transferred to ATS, Mumbai. Within days, Noor-ul-Huda became one of the main accused in the Malegaon blast case. Eight more people were later arrested as the ATS, Mumbai, claimed to have solved the case. Noor-ul-Huda and the other accused had already spent six years in jail in Mumbai by the time the case took a new turn following Swami Aseemanand’s confession in January last year. On November 16 last year, Noor-ul-Huda and the other eight were granted bail.

September 2008, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

On September 19, 2008, the MP Police nabbed “SIMI activist” Mohd Ali, 29, of Jabalpur from the Misrod railway station. Police officer T I Chandan Singh Surama recorded in the FIR: “We searched his bag and found papers of SIMI which is an offence.” The Misrod police station claimed that the papers seized from Mohd Ali’s bag included “Tehrik Rafia” — that is how the police’s seizure memo refers to the Tehrik-e-Millat magazine because it had “Rafia” written by hand in Hindi on the cover, the same copy of the same magazine that the Kotwali police station had claimed to have seized on April 16, 2006, from Rafia in Khandwa.

Besides, the police claimed that a SIMI donation receipt towards office construction fund (Receipt No. 0033359) dated January 25, 2006, with the name Kumari Aashiya Khan in Hindi for an amount of Rs 500 was recovered from Mohd Ali. This donation receipt is also exactly the same as the one the Kotwali police had claimed to have recovered from Aasiya in Khandwa. It was on the basis of these two “incriminating” documents alone that Mohd Ali was booked under the UAPA.

Incidentally, in the initial Khandwa case in which Aasiya and Rafia were arrested, the police kept extending the list of accused, going on to arrest 12 youths, including their brother Inam-ur-Rehman. Later, Inam was also picked up after the Jaipur blasts of May 13, 2008, and taken to Rajasthan. All the 14 held in the case were initially accused of being SIMI members.

On December 9, 2011, a fast-track court acquitted 11 of the 14, including Inam.

INVITATION- Seema Azad and Vishwavijay – speak in JNU on 3rd September


The singer was singing
And they question him
Why do you sing?
He answers them
as they seize him
Because I sing
And they have searched him:
In his breast only his heart
In his heart only his people
In his voice only his sorrow
In his sorrow only his prison
And they have searched his prison
To find only themselves in chains
Mahmoud Darwish

Friends,
As it is well known Seema Azad and Vishwavijay, two civil rights activists,

editor of a well known magazines and literary persons were arrested in
2010, were arrested from Khuldabad, Allahabad. Their ‘crime’ was that
they possessed literature of Bhagat Singh. The state saw them as ‘potential
terrorists’ as threat to the country. They were sentenced for life on charges
of criminal conspiracy, waging war and under several provisions of the
draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
As the Organising Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in
Uttar Pradesh and editor of the  magazine Dastak Seema had
consistently reported and gave  voice to the growing dissent of the
people against the anti-people  policies of the government in the
form of Ganga Expressway which  brought forth the nexus of the
politicians, bureaucrats and the  land mafia. As we may recall the
Ganga Expressway can result in  the displacement of thousands of
peasantry. It was her initiative to  expose the increasing arbitrary
arrests, torture and incarceration  of Muslim youth in Azamgarh.

The magazine Dastak became a vehicle for expressing the voice of the
voiceless. And this is precisely what the government would want us to
believe as ‘waging war against the state’! And this is why the police officer
would find fault with both of them, for ‘waging war’ with the state, for
reading Bhagat Singh at a time when the state is flaunting a sham ‘growth
rate’, but the material condition of the people are deteriorating every day!
The verdict against Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay w against the grain of
fundamental rights of the people of the subcontinent as it goes a long way
in criminally profiling any political dissent or opinion or even spreading
that as ‘waging war’ against the state. The state would tell us how we
should think and express ourselves. We can be only part of the state in
‘managing’ the perception of the people.

Seema and Vishwavijay were finally granted bail by the Allahabad High
Court this August. Huge public pressure that was mounted on the court by
consistent campaign by civil rights and democratic activists finally forced
the court to grant them bail. Although this is indeed a huge victory for the
democratic movement, it is also a grim reminder that even now thousands
of activists including cultural activists are still being incarcerated after
being framed as ‘terrorists’ or ‘extremists’ just because they dare to raise
their voices against exploitation and oppression of the people. Sudhir
Dhawale, Jeetan Marandi, Deepak Dengle or Utpal Bashke are a few
among the thousands who are languishing in various jails of the country,
charged with the ‘crime’ of being fearless cultural and literary activists who
stood by people’s resistance for land, livelihood and dignity. The fight to
release all these political prisoners must go on. As a part of that effort, we
invite you to this convention, where along with Seema and Vishwavijay
many other well known poets and writers will raise their voice against the
war that has been declared on our
fundamental rights by the Indian state.

उठाने ही होंगे  अभिव्यभि केख़तरे दमन के भख़लाफ़ प्रभतरोध की सस्ं कृभत

Uthane hi honge abhivyakti ke khatre: daman ke khilaf pratirodh ki sanskriti”

Speakers:
Seema Azad
Vishwavijay
Anjani
Manager pandey
Pankaj Bisht
Mangalesh Dabral
Madan Kas

Ranjit Verma
Neelabh Ashq
Anuj Lugun
Kapilesh Bhoj
Prashant Rahi
Vidrohi

3rd of September in SSS Auditorium JNU at 2pm.

Cultural Activist, Jeetan Marandi languishes in Jail, his wife Aparna Marandi keeps the Battle on #mustread


 

WHO IS JEETAN MARANDI?

Jeetan  Marandi is a cultural activist from Jharkhand , a cultural activist who used to sing the folk songs and other revolutionary songs in villages of Jharkhand, to make the people aware of socio-political developments taking place in the state. He was misjudged due to his name. He is also  the secretaries of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners.

He was arrested in 2008 and accused by the police of being involved in the murder of 20 villagers, including the son of former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, in Chilkari in 2007.

He was sentenced to death in June 2011 by a lower court in Jharkhand. He has been an active participant in the movements against forcible land acquisitions in Jharkhand – and was actually arrested while he was on the way back from one such rally organized by the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikash Andolan, almost an year after the killings.

In December 2011, Jharkhand High Court turned down death sentences of four person including Jeetan Marandi in Chilkar massacre case for the want of substantial evidence. The  Court had acquitted the four accused in Chilkhari murder case on December 15, 2011. Giving them the ‘benefit of doubt’ the court said that it could not punish these people on the basis of the witnesses who themselves are of criminal background. Jeetan, Chattar Mandal, Manoj Rajwar and Anil Ram were first awarded death sentence by Additional Sessions Judge at Giridih on June 22, 2011. Jeetan Marandi and other three were convicted under Sections 143, 342, 379, 149, 120B, 30, 149, Copyright Licensing Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act along with Section 302.

The police chargesheeted him under various clauses of the penal code, and it has also been alleged that false witnesses were brought forth during the trial, leading to the death-sentence. This case falls into the larger pattern of victimization of the cultural political activists as well as those adivasi voices who are resisting the various injustices being inflicted by the state.

He has been slapped under the draconian law Crime Control Act (CCA) , and still contnues to langish in jail.I AM JEETAN MARANDI

He has written a letter from jail in name of the Nation

Dr Binayak Sen, in a public meeting in  Ranchi  in 2011 had said “An artiste and tribal rights activist, Jeetan was known to utilise the power of music to speak against government atrocities on the common man, especially tribals. “Artistes world over have used their medium of music, song, painting, etc. to portray the wrongs of society. Jeetan was fighting against displacement, corporate and political loot among other ills. It is ironic of the state government that in the land of Birsa Munda, it has been staying mum on his case.

Please sign online petition for his release-PLEASE SIGN ON-LINE PETITION FOR HIS RELEASE

His wife, Aparna Marandi is asking us if our nation is really independent. She says when I look around so many years after independence same repression as British is continuing and there is not much progress on health, education of poor. Educated are not getting jobs. She says my husband Jeetan Marandi is an example. He was writing songs to make people aware about their rights and to fight against obscurantism,dowry etc and he is in jail on false charges. I think we are not independent. For more Aparna ji can be reached at 09771949885

http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=13006

She sings song of jeetan marandi

ये आज़ादी है कैसा, कहने वालों को हक ये मिला है कैसा?….एक गीत

ये आजादी आज़ादी है कैसा?

कहने वालों को हक ये मिला है कैसा
देखो कितने भूखे नंगे तडप रहे हैं
ये आज़ादी का हालत है कैसा
देखो कितने महल ये चमक रहे हैं
कितनी झुपडिया उजाड पड़े हैं
ये आज़ादी मिली है कैसा?

अपर्णा मरांडी

Listen to her here http://cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=13077

Here , Aparna Marandi is singing a Santhali song written by jailed adivasi cultural activist Jeetan Marandi which talks about ill effect of drinking. The song says you are drinking and your house is getting destroyed, your children are suffering, their education is getting affected. The song requests please leave drinking and take care of your family.

http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=13126

 

How are legitimate citizens converted into public enemies?


– By Ilina Sen
[ PUCL Bulletin, August 2012, www.pucl.org ]

On June 26, as we remembered the clamping down of the internal Emergency on the people of the sovereign democratic republic of India 38-years ago, why is that our thoughts turn, almost as if drawn by a magnet, to the history of jurisprudence in the city of Allahabad?

The dark history of the Emergency, a time when all civil and constitutional freedoms stood suspended, was triggered by a series of events in the corridors of the Allahabad judicial establishment – a time when the judiciary elected not to oblige the political establishment, and countermanded the irregular election of the politician laying claim to the highest office in the country. Although the entire country underwent a trial by fire after this, the Indian public institutions, especially the judiciary gained hugely in terms of its reputation for independence and fearlessness.

Today, it is another judgement coming out of the judicial corridors at Allahabad that has us mesmerised, and this time for different reasons. The conviction under sections of the IPC and UAPA of Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay and the sentence of life  imprisonment given to them earlier this month has sent shock waves among Indian citizens not because these two were special people in any sense. Many of us did not know them, but their arrests, trial and conviction has once more highlighted the malevolent way in which the internal security laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) are used. More frighteningly, this has demonstrated the close nexus between the prosecuting agencies and the judicial system.  The independence of the judicial process on which we once prided ourselves is nowhere in evidence.

The lengthy judgement convicting and sentencing Seema and her husband on charges of waging war against the State rests on the evidence of 14 witnesses, 12 of whom are police personnel involved in their arrest and its documentation, and two others are officials belonging to the telephone department. There is not a  single public witness, and in a sense this is fair enough because there is nowhere any mention of anything to be witness to. No act of violence or criminality is alleged anywhere, in which they are  supposed to have been involved. The items seized from them and sealed after their arrest have been illegally opened in the police station ‘for inspection’, and they are assumed  to be responsible for certain literature that is critical of state policy only on the grounds that this was found in their house. Nowhere is there any specific act or deed that endangers the state even attributed to them, and their conviction on serious national security charges is entirely on the basis of generalities.  The court’s conclusion can only be explained by the fact that the court refused to assume the innocence of the accused.

The judgment pronounced by the sessions court at Allahabad in the case of Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay is a perfect example of how, in the name of combating terrorism or Maoism, a large number of halftruths, inadmissible evidence, procedural violations and a paranoid piece of legislation can convert legitimate citizens into public enemies. The implied embargo on reading critical literature goes against the spirit of our Constitution.  If judicial pronouncements of this nature are allowed to pass into the realm of acceptability, we are really at the beginning of a second National Emergency, with our rights and spaces suspended. The Indian people will no doubt resist this attempt to curtail their constitutional rights; but this time round, do we have the judiciary with us in our struggle?

IMMEDIATE RELREASE-June 26th- Emergency Day- hunger strike in all Prisons in INDIA !!


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

Statement in Solidarity with Proposed Day Long Hunger Strike on Emergency Day on 26 June 2012 in All Prisons

Against the Sentencing of Seema & Vishwa Vijay! Against the Denial of Our Fundamental Freedoms!

Let us Remember the Dreadful Anti-People Emergency to Continue our Fight Against the Undeclared Emergency on the Freedom Loving People of the Subcontinent!

All Political Prisoners are Targets of an Undeclared Emergency! We demand Their Unconditional Release!

All Draconian Laws Including the UAPA and AFSPA and the Anti-Sedition Laws are Clear Instruments Towards Declaring an Undeclared Emergency! We Demand that Such Anti-People Laws be Immediately Revoked!

As this is being written one cannot deny the possibility of a Muslim youth being picked up as suspected ‘terrorist’ out to destabilise the Indian state; or an Adivasi or a Dalit who is left with little option but to fight against the criminal denial of his/her life and livelihood being picked up as a ‘terrorist’, ‘extremist’ waging war against the state. Anyone who writes, speaks, mobilises people against such growing fascist, anti-people tendencies of the Indian state are also becoming targets of the same policy—the case of Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay and a cultural organisation like Kabir Kala Manch being the latest while there are others such as Sudhir Dhawale, Utpal and Jeetan Marandi being incarcerated for their undying love for the well being of the people especially the most oppressed, the Dalits and Adivasis. In Jammu & Kashmir while there are undeclared centres of torture and detention at every nook and cranny, the Kashmiri Muslim prisoners kept in jails in Jammu are meted the worst kind of treatment—in the form of torture, denial of facilities as per the jail manual etc. While the arrests under Public Safety Act are increasing day by day with thousands behind bars the state has also started enforcing UAPA along with the already imposed Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Every state of India is teethed with separate preventive detention laws as well as other draconian instruments apart from the centralised UAPA. Prisoners are flooding the already crowded jails which has least turned out to be centres of reform but breeding grounds for criminalisation and communalisation. Instances of entire villages being put behind bars—for their alleged support to the Maoists—repeatedly even after they are acquitted by the court while custodial deaths/killings due to inhuman torture or connivance of the authorities with communal, criminal elements in the prison is strikingly emerging as a pattern. Needless to say there is an undeclared emergency in the Indian subcontinent.

The role of the media in managing, making perceptions about this undeclared emergency as a necessary evil is increasingly creating a sense of fatalism among the people. Increasingly it is being told to the people that any form of political dissent is against the interests of the state; of growth; of development. So anyone who protests against the anti-people policies of growth, development becomes a ‘terrorist’, ‘waging war’ against the state. The rest of the act of profiling these people as ‘criminals’, ‘anti-nationals’ is done by a large section of the jingoist media hand-in-glove with the state in its so-called ‘war against terror’ as well as the predatory policies of loot and plunder of the Indian state. Today what denote corporate/moribund capital interest have also become the interests of the big media houses. And there is a convergence of interests between moribund capital and a national security state that India is fast emerging. The need of an undeclared emergency is more than justified in such a scenario.

In this context the memories of 26th of June 1976 remain a dreadful day for the freedom loving people of the Indian subcontinent as it happens to be the day of proclamation of the notorious Emergency by the then Indira Gandhi autocratic regime. On this dark day of 1976, the democracy – loving people in their hundreds were arbitrarily jailed and virtually an awful war was declared on the voice of decent and the voice of the voiceless. And today the memory of 26th of June and the lived reality for vast sections of the masses of the people remains the same. But it should be recalled that ultimately, the mighty voice of freedom – loving people prevailed as they fought back.

In solidarity with the call given by the political prisoners we at the CRPP is proposing to observe this day, i.e., 26th June, as the day of raising voice in defense of the rights and freedom of prisoners in general and those of Political prisoners in particular. We stand in solidarity with the call for observing day long hunger strike given by all the political prisoners and other prisoners throughout the Indian subcontinent, for the realization of the following demands.

IMMEDIATE DEMANDS

1. Stop the fascist policy of slapping false cases at the jail gate itself on any Political Prisoner, who has been released through due legal process after prolonged imprisonment.

2. If one is imprisoned in one are more cases, he/she should be kept informed about the rest of the cases if any pending against him or her and all cases should be duly processed and completed within reasonable time period as per the right of Speedy trial.

3. Hygienic food and water supply to the prisoner should be guaranteed.

4. Regular Interviews for the prisoners with their kith and kins and well wishers should be guaranteed.

5. Books, Magazines and political literature should be supplied to the prisoners who are in need of them.

6. Prisoners should duly be produced before the respective courts.

7. Any prisoner who completes 10 years of imprisonment (7 years actual sentence + three years remission) should forthwith be released irrespective of the sections stipulated in the case.

8. Lifers in the Hyderabad Central such as PBV Ganesh and Abdul Qadheer should immediately be released from their prolonged imprisonment of more than 20 years.

OTHER DEMANDS

Release All Political Prisoners Unconditionally!

Repeal All Draconian Laws Including UAPA and AFSPA!

Remove All forces from the Adivasi areas in Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Jangal Mahal under the name Operation Green Hunt, Operation Hukka, Operation Vijay!

Remove Armed Forces from Kashmir and North-East!

In Solidarity,

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SAR Geelani                       Amit Bhattacharyya                          Rona Wilson

Working President              Secretary General                               Secretary, Public Relations

Report on All India Convention against Sedition and Other Repressive Laws


The convention notes with serious concern that the law used by the British Raj to suppress
the Freedom Movement remains part of our statutes. Its egregious use against all
forms of dissent and protest including peasant activists, environmental movement, women,
dalits, adivasis, minorities highlights how the laws on Sedition [in Section 124 A of the
Indian Penal Code as well as in other Laws in operation such as S 2(O) of the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention) Act or in any state level laws such as Criminal Law Amendment Act
or its equivalent] strike at the heart of democracy by curbing freedom of expression,
assembly and association and thus undermine constitutional democracy. In the name of
curbing ‘disaffection’ towards the government or ‘disloyalty’ to the Indian State, S. 124 A of
the IPC threatens to imprison a person for life, whether such disaffection, hatred or contempt
is created by words spoken or written or by signs or visible representation.
The convention is convinced that it is the legitimate right of every citizen to express his or
her opinion, expose the misdeeds and anti-people policies of the government or to even
disapprove of, express disaffection, question and condemn the present system, and even vent
out opinions which call for transforming State and Society. The convention considers respect
for difference of opinion, perspective or view as being a vital part of our struggle for
strengthening democracy. We, therefore, call for the repeal of S 124 A of the IPC and
dropping 2(o) from the UAPA as well as similar provisions from state level laws.
In view of the documented reports from all over India about the use of the sedition law and in
light of the fact that this law is absolutely incompatible with democracy, we, the participating
human rights organisations, as also concerned citizens across the country including
teachers and academics, independent professionals from the media, medical community,
lawyers, students, social movement activists and other grass roots social and political activists
demand that the Indian parliament immediately take necessary steps to repeal sedition law in
sec. 124A IPC and dropping 2 (o) from the UAPA as well as similar provisions from the state
level laws.
All the constituents members have been campaigning against draconian laws such as AFSPA,
UAPA and others and shall continue to campaign for their repeal. As a consequence of repeal
of sedition (S 124 A IPC, S 2 (o) of UAPA 1967 and Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act
1911 and other similar laws), all persons facing prosecution for offences made under these
provisions/laws should forthwith be dropped and those languishing in prisons should
immediately be released.
The convention declares the launch of an all India campaign against sedition and other
repressive laws.
PARTICIPANT ORGANISATIONS:
1. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL),
2. People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) Delhi,
3. Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) (WB),
4. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights Mumbai (CPDR),
5. Human Rights Alert (Manipur),
6. National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM),
7. New Socialist Initiative,
8. Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF),
9. Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) ,
10. People’s Democratic Front of India (PDFI),
11. Agriculture Workers Union (Karnataka),
12. CHRI,
13. Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR) (Haryana),
14. Asansol Civil Liberties Association (WB),
15. Coordination for Human Rights (COHR) (Manipur),
16. Committee for Peace and Democracy in Manipur (CPDM).

Downlaod full report here

Update on Seema Azad Case- Protest on June 26th- Emergency Day


 
Kavita Srivastava-
This is short note to give you a quick update in the Seema Azad case.
At a few hours notice a meeting was called on the 13th of June, 2012 at the Gandhi Peace Foundation against the conviction by a trial court sentencing  the Seema Azad and her husband Vishwa Vijay to life imprisonment. the meeting was called to share the travesty of justice in the flawed judgement condemning Ms Seema Azad and her husband Vishwa Vijay for life in prison on ridiculous grounds. Seema Azad the organising secretary of PUCL, Uttar Pradesh is a cultural and literary activist based in Allahabad. She was the editor of Dastak, a monthly magazine.

 

 The Delhi meeting was attended by more than 35 persons who  included Justice Rajinder Sachar, ex chief justice of the Delhi and Sikkim high Court, and former president of the PUCL,  Ravi Kiran Jain, Vice President PUCL and Senior Counsel Supreme Court & Allahabad High Court and was her lawyer for Seema; Shri Anand Swaroop Varma, Editor of Teesri Duniya and writer; Neelabh, poet and writer, Harish Dhawan of the PUDR, Chhittranjan Singh, Mahipal singh and Kavita Srivastava from the PUCL, Harsh Dhobal from HRLN, Madhuresh from NAPM, Roma and AShok Chowdhary from the National Forum for forest workers and forest people, journalist Bhasha Singh, Literary critic Ajay Singh, Adiyog from Lucknow, ND Pancholi from PUCL Delhi, Mahtab from the FPHRD along with several other activists, lawyers and literary persons.
The meeting began with Mr. Chittranjan Singh welcoming all and stating the two fold agenda of the meeting, which was mainly sharing of the critique of the judgement and planning the campaign activities.
Mr. Ravi Kiran jain presented the critique. the 70 page judgement, showed no evidence. According to Mr Jain the case at no stage went never went beyond the FIR. Infact the incriminating piece of evidence that the police had tried to show,  were mainly books and pamphlets and other “Maoist” literature that they were supposed to be carrying and had on their body at the time of their arrest on the 6th of February, 2012, Mr, Jain clarified that under no circumstance any of this could be counted as evidence, as the police had broken the seals of the packets without taking the magistrates permission and therefore tampering and planting of material could not be ruled out.
Secondly, the police had taken Seema’s remand illegally after the completion of ninety days, which is not permissible. During this two day remand they  had taken her to her house, where they showed the recovery of two mobiles and some more literature. Apart from the fact that the remand itself was illegal and had been challenged in the Allahabad High Court where a recall application was pending. The proper search was not carried out as according to CrPC rules and therefore planting of material was possible. .
Apart from this there was no other shred of evidence, although the prosecution tried to string together Seema’s case with one other case made out in Gorakhpur and 2 cases of Kanpur,  where according to the police they picked up several maoists, who were actively involved with the CPI (maoist) party. They tried to show how they had seized the same literature and there were some confessions of some other prisoners which showed that they were Maoists.  Which goes against the Indian jurisprudence where confession in front of police is not addmissable as evidence.
It was shocking to read that Seema had been convicted for sec 13 (punishment for indulging in unlawful), 18( punishment for conspiracy), 20 (being a member of a terrorist gang), 38 (membership of a terrorist gang), and 39 (providing support to a terrorist organisation ) of the UAPA amended 2004 and 2008, and u/s 120, 121 and 121(A) of the IPC.
 It also came as a rude shock to all that that Seema had been sentenced to 10 year rigorous imprisonment in most of the above sections along with fines of 5000 to 10 thousand rupees. except in 13 where is it was 5 years rigorous imprisonment. She was also sentenced to life u/s 121, waging war against state.
For those who are not aware rigorous imprisonment means working in either the factory of the jail or in the kitchen
Mr Ravi Kiran Jain shared with all that the criminal appeal would be filed in the Allahabad High Court very soon. although they have sixty days but they would not wait in this case.
Mr Anand Swaroop Varma and Neelabh Ashk shared the possible campaign that we could undertake.
 It was decided  that
  1. 15th June : Press conference exposing the travesty of justice condemning Seema to life, will be addressed by Justice Sachar, Ravi Kiran Jain, Anand Swaroop Varma and Neelabh Ashk will address, Ravi kiran jain will present the legal critique.
  2. 26th June: Emergency Day : PUCL Convention against the judgement in the Seema Azad case, all groups will be invited to participate . Along with condemning the judgement a campaign for the release of Seema Azad will also be planned. A poster will also be released for this purpose.  A critique of the judgement will be presented which will be prepared by Ravi Kiran Jain, Harish Dhawan, Neelabh Mishra and Anand Swaroop in English and Hindi and will not be longer than 5-6 pages.
  3. 25th June : Delhi activists to protest outside UP Bhawan.
  4. The entire judgement will be translated in english, which is being coordinated by Harish Dhawan.
  5. It was also planned that Allahabad and Lucknow must have protests, probably several groups are already planning this. Also a letter to Akhilesh Yadava against this conviction.

PUCL on conviction of Seema Azad and her husband by an Allahabad Court


PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

Founder: Jayaprakash Narayan

270-A Patparganj, Opposite Anandlok Apartments, Mayur Vihar- Phase I, Delhi 110091


12th  June, 2012
Press Release

          On the Conviction of Seema Azad and her husband by an Allahabad Court

The news of the sentencing of Seema Azad, along with her husband Vishwavijay Kamal, charged under Sections 121, 121A and 120B of IPC and also under the relevant provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for possessing objectionable literature, to life imprisonment by a court at Allahabad on 8 June 2012 has come as a shock to the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and thousands of human rights workers all over the country.

Seema Azad, a grassroots journalist and a well known civil liberties activist belonging to the UP State Branch of the PUCL, was returning after attending a book fair in New Delhi along with her husband when they were arrested by the Special Task Force on February 6, 2010 from the Allahabad station, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for their alleged links with Maoist organizations. The only evidence provided was a book carried by Seema Azad containing information on Maoist politics. From then on, they have been detained in custody, and have been refused bail.

It is clear to human rights activists that Seema Azad and her husband were charged under the draconian laws for political reasons. She has relentlessly raised her voice against local scams and injustices, denouncing the working condition of mining workers, exposing the practices of the local mafia and its nexus with the police force. She also edited a bi-monthly magazine – Dastak – and used it as a platform to publicize all the wrongs around her.

“On a number of occasions, she (Seema Azad) had taken up the cudgels on behalf of poor labourers and exposed the nexus between the police and the illegal contractors, who used to deploy labourers for unauthorised mining of stone or sand in various regions of Uttar Pradesh, particularly the Sonbhadra district,” PUCL UP Vice-President Ram Kumar said in a statement.

It has become a trend for the governments to book those, who criticize their anti-people policies and expose the misdeeds of politicians-police-bureaucrats and mafia nexus or give voice to the exploited, suffering, disinherited masses, under the most stringent laws, brand them as anti-national or Maoists and keep their voices muzzled by incarcerating them. What is even more miserable is that the judiciary, which is supposed to be the protector of the freedom and liberties of the people, also fails to do so. And the worst is that those who book innocent people on false and concocted charges always go unpunished even when higher courts reverse the judgment and set them free, of course, when they have already spent several years of their prime life in prisons. Seema Azad and her husband’s case has again brought these questions into focus and for all freedom loving people and human rights workers to take up the cause.

The PUCL plans to hold a convention shortly and also carry out a campaign for the release and justice of Seema Azad with other organisations.

Mahi Pal Singh

National Secretary, PUCL