Allahabad HC grants bail to Seema Azad, Vishvijay convicted for #sedition #goodnews


, TNN | Aug 6, 2012, 01.45PM IST

LUCKNOW: The Allahabad High Court has granted bail to journalist and civil right activistSeema Azad and her husband Vishvijay. The couple were convicted by a lower court on June 8, 2012, on charges of sedition. They were accused of having links with banned Maoist outfit and were held guilty for ‘waging war against the nation’.

The bail was granted by a division bench comprising Justice Dharnidhar Jha and Justice Akhok Pal Singh. Counsel for the couple Ravi Kiran Jain argued before the court that there was no concrete evidence with the police which can prove that the couple were engaged in naxal activity. He also said that having Naxal literature to study for the purpose of journalist does not amount to any connection with Naxals. Jain also said that Azad and her husband had exposed illegal mining being carried out in Allahabad and adjoining areas by the mafia in connivance with the government officers and police. The couple was implicated in a false case for writing about illegal mining.

Seema Azad’s case is similar to that of Dr Vinayak Sen, who was also implicated by the Chhatisgarh police, for alleged naxal connections. The Uttar Pradesh (UP) chapters of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have welcomed the court’s decision.

“We had full confidence in the judician system,” said Vandana Mishra, secretary PUCL, UP. At the time of arrest Seema was also state secretary of the PUCL and publishing a magazine ‘Dastak’ in which she had written several articles on illegal mining. The couple were also involved in sensitising people on violation of their rights and raised human rights issues.

The Special Task Force (STF) of UP had arrested the couple in February 2010 and had claimed to have recover Maoist literature and large amount of cash from their possession. They were charged with having association with a banned organization, the Communist Party of India(Maoist). After arrest, the STF handed over to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of UP making it a case involving ‘terrorist activity’. In its charge sheet submitted in the court, the ATS claimed that the couple were involved in inciting people through CD, laptops and books. The court held the couple guilty and awarded them life term.

After detaining the couple, the police had then said that two activists were arrested at the Allahabad railway station. However, in the FIR lodged later at the Khuldabad police station, police showed that the couple were arrested by the STF from Khuldabad in Allahabad.

The police had then also claimed that it found incriminating material which included a detailed programme of Krantikari Jan Committee, pamphlets carrying message of CPI (Maoist), a pamphlet related to the arrest of Kobad Gandhi, a pamphlet on arrest of Naxal and Maoist functionaries and members in BiharJharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

PUCL to appeal against Seema Azad’s conviction


LUCKNOW, June 12, 2012, the Hindu

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) will explore legal options in the wake of the life term awarded to its Uttar Pradesh unit organising secretary Seema Azad by an Allahabad court.
Ms. Azad, a post graduate in psychology from Allahabad University, and her husband Vishwavijay Kamal were arrested in Allahabad on February 6, 2010 on charges of being members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and involved in unlawful activities. They were convicted and awarded life term on June 8 after about two-and-a-half years in jail.
General secretary of the PUCL Vandana Misra said that an appeal would be made in a higher court. “We have the highest regard for the judiciary and are confident that justice will be delivered,” she said.
Ms. Azad and Vishwavijay were supposedly arrested at the Allahabad railway station on February 6, 2010 when they returned after attending a book fair in New Delhi. This was the version given to reporters by senior police officers in Lucknow two days after the arrests were made. (According to the police, Ms. Azad was among the 11 alleged Maoists arrested from Gorakhpur, Kanpur and Allahabad).
However, the First Information Report related to Seema Azad and her husband’s arrest (a copy of which is with The-Hindu) lodged at the Khuldabad police station states that they were arrested by the Allahabad field unit of the Special Task Force from Khuldabad in Lukerganj area of Allahabad at 9.30 pm on February 6, 2010.
The police claimed to have found the following material from their cloth bags: Detailed programme of Krantikari Jan Committee from 1 to 26 (month not mentioned); a pamphlet carrying the message of CPI (Maoist); a ‘PLGA‘ pamphlet related to the arrest of Kobad Gandhi; agenda of ninth NPB meeting on 30 and 31 January; pamphlet calling for the fifth anniversary of the party; pamphlet pertaining to the arrest of central committee members and five activists of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh; pamphlet related to the oath on PLGA day; and about Rs. 50,000 in cash.
While the PUCL alleged that Seema Azad was framed by the police for raising her voice against the alleged fake encounters and atrocities on mining workers, the police claimed that they were planning to expand base in North Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The couple were sentenced to life imprisonment and fined Rs. 20,000 for waging a war against the State and criminal conspiracy. They were charged under Sections 121, 121A and 120B of IPC. They were also charged under the relevant provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for possessing objectionable literature.

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