PRESS RELEASE- Fact Finding Report on Kerala Arrests under UAPA #draconianlaws


Kannur,
17- 05 – 2013
Following the news reports about the arrest of 21 Muslim youths under UAPA in Narath (Kannur dt.) by the Kerala police, a team of National Confederation of Human Rights (NCHRO) visited the place yesterday and today, met the relatives of the arrested, people living in the neighbourhood of the place of arrest and police officers with a view to collect the facts regarding. The team members are: NCHRO National Secretary Reny Ayline (Trivandram), Executive Members Prof. A.Marx (Chennai), G.Sugumaran (Puducherry), Kerala state committee member Advocate M.Abdul Shukoor (Malappuram), Writer and Activist K.M.Venugopal (Kannur) and Journalist Mohammed Shabir (Mangalore).
All the youths arrested are sympathisers of Popular Front of India (PFI), a registered organisation . They are conducting a programme every year known as “ Healthy People, Healthy Nation” in which they impart physical fitness training, yoga, some martial arts as well as religious and moral education to young people. This year also they were conducting the programme in a building owned by one Thanal Trust which is also a registered body under Charitable Trusts Act. This building is situated in a densely populated area in Narath behind the Falah English Medium High School. It is a half-built building without proper doors or the windows and everything that happens within the four walls of the building is visible to everybody outside. All the youths who took part in the programme were coming from the neighbourhood villages and they used to return to their homes in the nights.
According to the eye witnesses of the arrest which includes Mrs P.M.Saleem, Mrs. Abdul Jaffar, M.Abdullah, K.P.Mussam Kutty, all neighbours living around that building, a team of four policemen first entered the building on April 23 around 12.30 pm. The people around thought that it might be a regular visit of the police who used to come there often in search of sand mafia who are very active in that area. But soon a large battalion of police came there and took all the people in the building with them.
The police version of the story goes like this. As per the FIR filed by them (Mayyil P.S. FIR No 276/13), these people were given instructions on bomb making and training in the use of arms. They were able to seize two country bombs, one sword, and some materials and instruments necessary to make the bombs. Accordingly cases were filed under sections 143, 147, 153(B), R/W 149 IPC, Sec 5(1)(a) r/w 25(1)(a) of Arms Act, Sec 4 & of ES Act and Sec 18 of UAPA) against all the 21 Muslim youths and they were remanded to custody.
But not only the parents and relatives of the accused but also the neighbours mentioned above told us that no such armed training took place there, all the physical exercises and classes were very peaceful. One of the neighbours M.Abdullah said that he used to send his wife for the religious classes conducted there. The only Hindu living near the building one Suthish s/o Raghavan also said the same. He also denied that any bomb making or arms trainings were imparted to them. The Jamath member Mussam Kutty and the principal of Falah English Medium School Mr.P.Mustafa also said that the programmes were very peaceful and no such arms training were given to the inmates.
We also met the President of the Narath Grama Panchayat Mr.K.V.Mamy and a ward member Abdul Salam Haji. The former is a member of CPI(M) and the latter that of IUML. They also said that no such arms and bomb making trainings are possible in their panchayat limit. Nothing of that sort happened, they said. The president also attended a training programme conducted by the Thanal trust few weeks back known as ‘Happy Family’ in which Dr Ashraff, a psychologist took classes for women. Thanal trust also use to distribute school kits to poor children and conduct ‘School Chalo’ programmes to school drop outs. The President also said that there prevailed a political enmity between PFI and IUML because the front was responsible for the defeat of the IUML candidate in the last Panchayat election.
We visited the houses of at least four accused persons and met their near and dear. They all said that all the accused were brought from the Thanal trust building on April 23 to the police station on a promise that they would be sent back after an enquiry. Only in the evening they came to know through the media that so many serious cases are foisted against them. No such arms and bombs were seized either in the building at the time of arrest or in their houses during searches. Some of their statements:
C.P.Musa, Former teacher , Kottancherry : “My son Fahad (27) is a B.Com graduate. He owns a Travel Agency. He is also a franchise holder of Western Union Money Transfer and people living in foreign countries use to send money to their relatives for building houses through him. As a teacher I can say that he is a very good student, he is very pious, use to pray 5 times a day, fast two times a week. He is a sympathiser of PFI. The police searched my house and also my son’s travel agency. They found nothing incriminating. They took only a copy of the Holy Quran and a marriage cd from my son’s office. We came to know his arrest through the media.”
A.P.Umar, Muzhappillangadi : “My son Rickas (22) is studiying M.B.A. He is not a member of any organisation. I came to know his arrest only through the media. Some political opponents must have given false information to the police. Police came to my house but found nothing.”
C.P.Mustafa, Auto Driver, Muzhappillangadi : “My son Jamsheed (20) is a student of civil engineering. Two days back I met him in the prison. He said that one investigating officer told him that if he accepted the charge, they would give him 2 lakh rupees in cash and a new house”
M.Sanfaras, Manager in a private company in Bangalore : “My brother Rshid (22) is a +2 student. Our father is no more. They raided my house and found nothing. My brother had no connection with any organisation. My mother and other family members came to know about his arrest only through the media.
Mr. Kalyattu Surendhran, the Station Officer of the Mayyil police station denied the allegations of the relatives of the accused. He said that it was true that arms and bomb making trainings were given to the accused. When we asked him that how such clandestine activities were possible in such a crowded place and that too in an open building without window doors , he was not able to give a proper reply. When we asked him about what sort of bombs were seized from them, he said that they were giving training to make “something like bombs” and two of which were seized by them. When we asked about other incriminating materials seized he showed a register in which it was stated that a cd about ‘love jihad’ and a pamphlet on the role of Sangh Parivar in blast cases were seized . The pamphlet ‘Spoadana Bheekatrathayil Sangaparivarathinte Paghu’ was written by one Jalarudin Vazhakkad and published by Jamathe Islami. Earlier it was published as a serial in the magazine ‘Praboadhanam’. When we pointed out that these were not banned documents and were available freely in the market, he replied, “may be”.
We also met the DySP P.Sukumaran and Inspector P.Balakrishnan in the former’s office .They told that UAPA was invoked on them not for the bombs seized there, but the mind set of certain Muslims are such that these laws were to be used against them. “Kerala is a beautiful country and there is no majority / minority problem here. There is no problem with the Christian minority; however, Muslim minority are not like that” said the DySP “We have arrested them not only for bomb making. We have seized there 172 incriminating documents which necessitated the application of UAPA”, said the Inspector. But that list of 172 ‘incriminating’ documents contain only items like Indian currencies, ID cards, paper cuttings..etc. The DySP also said that he had received a complaint from the local mosque committee that the activities in that building are to be watched. But when we met a Jamath member he denied that any clandestine activities took place in that building which we have already quoted.
Our Observations : 1. The Supreme Court directions given in D.K.Basu case were not followed in these arrests. The police has lied to the court that the parents were informed about the arrests by phone whereas they came to know about it only through the media.
2. It was not at all possible that any training on the use of arms and bomb making can be imparted to the youths in such a thickly populated and open place and that too in a building without doors or the windows. Such physical and moral training classes were conducted by PFI in the same place at least for the past three years and no complaints were received by the police about any clandestine activities. When the police visited there once, they didn’t find anything. All the neighbours living around the building also deny such allegations. We also wonder what sort of arms training could have been given to at least 21 people with a single sword and a few wooden sticks. It is ridiculous to say that some freely available pamphlets and compact discs are shown as incriminating materials. Since nobody had seen the police seizing “something like bombs” in the building, we strongly believe that the bomb story is hoaxed by the police to justify their action and malign the movement.
3. We are much worried about the way in which rumours are spread against the arrested youths by the intelligence through the media. Some sixty lakhs rupees found in the account of one accused is focused as large illegal foreign money involved in this act. Actually he is involved in a travel business and holds a consultancy for admission in self financing engineering and medical colleges. He receives money from migrant labours in foreign countries to build houses through a friend of him. The police were not able to find anything illegal in that account. Few days back one newspaper has published that the Narath accused were involved in Coimbatore serial bomb blast case. All the accused are young people and most of them were school going children when Coimbatore incident took place and some of them had not even born at that time. A Kish identity card seized from one of the accused is also projected as related to some anti national activity. But having a Kish ID is a normal thing used as an intermediary pass to move to UAE for those who have no permanent visa to that country.
4. Except one of them , all other 20 young men arrested were not at all involved in any other pending cases.
5. It is very sad that Kerala police has foisted such false cases against these innocent youths at a time when there is widespread concern expressed throughout the nation on # arrests of innocent Muslim youths. Most of them had been kept in prison for so many years and then released as they were innocents. Not only their prime youthful years were lost in prison, but stigmatized of being dubbed ‘anti nationals’ because of this arrest, they are not even able to get good jobs and decent livelihood. Recently, the Supreme Court also has condemned this. The Press Council Chairperson Justice Markandeya Katju had expressed concern about spreading such false propaganda against innocent Muslim youths in the media. He has also proposed an institution known as ‘The Court of Last Resort’ to extend help and save such innocent youths languishing in Indian prisons. It is no one’s position that those who plant bombs should go unpunished. As the editor of Tehelka magazine Shoma Chaudhri has written, “do not make false arrests and breed fresh despair, triggering new cycles of hate and revenge. In the clever calculations men make about security and State, they underestimate the power of human despair. When you lose faith that a system will play fair by you, it can breed fatal recklessness. It can make you abdicate from the rules that cement human relations. Despair can turn you from citizen to perpetrator, from the hunted to the hunter. Despair can be a deadly weapon”. Even parties like CPI(M) have now raised this issue. Recently the CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat took a list of 22 Muslims to President Pranab Mukherjee and demanded the Centre to take immediate steps to help such victims of “State-led injustice”. The demands included fast-track courts; rehabilitation and compensation for those had been falsely jailed; and a review of the UAPA
Our Demands
1. We strongly believe that all the allegations against these youths are false and the fake case foisted against these innocent youths should be immediately withdrawn and those arrested should be unconditionally released. Special care should be taken to allow the students to write their examinations.
2. We cannot find any logic to evoke a draconian Act like UAPA in this case. Since nationwide concern is expressed against this Act, we demand that UAPA should be repealed immediately.
3. The case against these 21 youths was deliberately foisted with a view to harassing them and spoiling the name of PFI. With spreading rumours against these innocent youths we find them stigmatized as ‘anti nationals’, which in turn will spoil their future. It is alleged that during interrogation, the police had chosen the poorest among them and offered two lakh rupees and a new house in exchange for accepting the charges and becoming an approver. We demand a judicial enquiry in this arrest by a sitting High Court Judge. The police officers responsible for foisting this case should be punished and the innocent youths should be given compensation.
4. Kerala is the state with highest literacy rate and the political, civil rights and trade union consciousness among the people are larger when compared to other states. We humbly issue a call to the political parties, writers and other intelligentsia to condemn the indiscriminate use of draconian laws such as UAPA against innocent youths.
5. From our conversation with the higher police officials we understand that they are biased against the Muslim minority in the state. We demand that sensitisation programmes should be conducted for the revenue and police personnel on problems faced by minorities, dalits and adivasis. Also, sufficient number of officials from minority communities is to be posted in areas in which the above sections of population are in large numbers .

Address: Reny Ayline, NCHRO, 44, Hilal Homes, Abul Fazal Enclave, New Delhi – 110025. Cell: 8606337319, 9633443798.

Journalist Victimized by the Karnataka police #FOE #mediagag


 

In jail for the past 50 days for covering the Mangalore homestay raid,

Naveen Soorinje’s bail application comes up tomorrow.   

 

Posted Tuesday, Dec 25, 2012, http://www.thehoot.org/

On November 7, 2012, Kannada TV channel Kasturi’s reporter in Mangalore, Naveen Soorinje, 28, was returning after covering a public function addressed by former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, when he was arrested by the Mangalore police. From that date to now, he has been lodged in the Mangalore sub-jail. He has been denied bail by both Mangalore Judicial Magistrate First Class [JMFC] and the Mangalore district and sessions court.
Soorinje’s crime? He covered and telecast the attack on a birthday party at a homestay in the Mangalore’s suburb of Padil by Hindutva activists on July 28, 2012. But the charges against him are: unlawful assembly [IPC section143], rioting [147], rioting with deadly weapons [148], criminal trespass [447], house trespass [448], wrongful restraint [341], voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means [323/324], criminal intimidation [506], intentional insult with intent to provoke breach [504], assault or criminal force against women with intent [354] and dacoity [395].
The Mangalore police have arrested 31 persons with Hindutva links in connection with the homestay incident. Soorinje, the only reporter present on the spot, and whose report identifying this incident as  ‘’Talibanization of Mangalore’’ was the basis for the entire case against the Hindutva activists, has been charged and arrested under the same sections of the IPC [Indian Penal Code] as the accused.
When his bail application comes up on December 26, 2012, Soorinje will have spent 50 days in jail. A small band of committed journalists and activists from Mangalore are fighting for his release. They have given petitions to the district administration, tried to get chief minister JagadishShettar to intervene, but to no avail.  Home minister R Ashoka,  reportedly at the behest of Soorinje’s boss Anita Kumaraswamy, the wife of former chief minister H D Kumarswamy, is said to have tried to protect the journalist. But, according to sources in Ashoka’s office, his efforts were muzzled  by a PIL filed by some Mangalore residents in the Karnataka High Court seeking a restraint on his intervention.
Who is Naveen Soorinje?
Mangalore reporters point out that Soorinje has been responsible for several exposes in his career, first as a reporter for the tabloid Karavali Ale and later, for the Kasturi channel. In the course of his seven year career, he has written and done audio visual stories that have targeted Hindutva organizations, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Popular Front of India which is also a Muslim organization, the pontiff of Pejawar Mutt Vishveshateertha, who is the guru of former Madhya Pradesh CM Uma Bharti, and the powerful head of the Dharmasthala temple, the DharmadhikariVeerendraHeggade, among others.
‘’Naveen has taken on all-powerful organisations in the region, indiscriminately. He wrote exposes on corrupt policemen, exposes on journalists taking gifts in return for favours, so everyone was out to fix him. They have deliberately put non-bailable charges on him and ensured that he is out of circulation as a warning to everyone else who wants to expose the communalism bubbling over in Mangalore,’’ a fellow journalist, who declined to be named, told The Hoot.
Soorinje, by his own submission, had got a tip off from a source in Padil on July 28h that some people were preparing for an attack on Muslim boys who were consorting with Hindu girls. Soorinje says, according to a report compiled by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties Karnataka [PUCL-K]: ‘’The immediate thought that crossed my mind was, should I inform the police right away or not? I had not information about the organization that was going to attack. I also did not know who was going to be attacked or for what reason or the place at which the attack would take place. As I had been given the information by my news source, I thought I would inform the police only after confirming it.’’
Soorinje was the only reporter who reached the homestay, Morning Mist, before the attack at 6.50 pm. He had with him Rajesh Srinivas, the cameraman of another Kannada TV channel, TV-9, as his own cameraman was not available. Soorinje says when he reached there,  he saw a girl sitting in the verandah and two boys were at another corner, playing on their mobiles. ‘’There was nothing there which could provide a reason for assailants to attack, so even at that point, I did not think it was necessary to call the police, as the information that I had been given could be wrong.’’
But some 30 people gathered and barged in, as the girl on the verandah ran in and tried to shut the door. Soorinje says he immediately called the local inspector Ravish Nayak, but he did not receive the call. Soorinje then called the TV-9 reporter Rajesh Rao and asked him to contact Ravish Nayak, with the same results.
Along with the assaulters, another cameraman, Sharan of the local Mangalore channel, Sahaya TV, had come in. Sharan and Srinivas barged into the home stay along with the assailants, while Soorinje began reporting the story and alerting others. He says he was shocked at the kind of violence and molestation of the girls that the assailants indulged in and felt ‘’these things could not be made into visuals for the news. Very little of what happened there could be shot on camera. However, the way the assailants were manhandling the girls, if news cameras were not present, I shudder to think how much further they would have gone.’’
The police have built a case against Soorinje based on a complaint filed by an event manager Vijay Kumar, who was hosting the birthday party at the home stay. But Vijay Kumar has told PUCL-K: ‘’If the media had not been there, the goons would certainly have raped the girls. After the incident we gave a statement to the police. My signature was taken on a blank sheet of paper and then an FIR was prepared, some of whose points I don’t agree with.’’ He, along with other victims, held a press conference in Mangalore on July 29 and said: ‘’The media has helped us, there should be no case against them.’’
The police, further, did selective chargesheeting. Soorije was charged and put into jail, but the TV-9 cameraman whose footage was used by all channels including the national ones, is not among the accused. Yet another accused, Sharan of Sahaya TV, is going about his work in Mangalore, but he has not been arrested. A CD of the entire incident submitted by Soorinje to Ravish Nayak has gone ”missing” while a pen drive from TV-9 has been shown as the evidence. This serves the purpose of making TV-9 the witness and Soorinje the accused. The police have slapped the dacoity charge on him along with section 34 of the IPC, which reads:”When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.”
Naveen’s bail application comes up on December 26, 2012.

Bajrang Dal man smears dung on professor’s face in Bangalore


By M Raghuram | Place: Mangalore | Agency: DNA

After making international headlines for moral policing and attacking pubs and churches, the vigilante groups in Mangalore have now started targeting academicians for expressing a broader social outlook.

In a bid to humiliate an academician, a vigilante group member smeared cow dung on a Mangalore University professor’s face in broad daylight. Prof Somayaji had come to a restaurant near Mahaveer Circle for lunch. A youth, who was holding fresh cow dung, approached his table. “At first, I did not suspect anything. The man just smeared the dung on my face, abused me and, even before I knew what was happening, he left,” said the professor.

The lecturer has filed a complaint with Kankanady police. “Mangalore has become a hotbed for vigilantism. We do not have the freedom to express our views in public. Even those in power are not doing anything about it,” he said. Bajrang Dal owned responsibility of carrying out the operation. “It was our activist Bharat, who smeared cow dung on the professor’s face. Somayaji has been making inflammatory speeches on platforms provided to him by political outfits like Popular Front of India. This has hurt the sentiments of many on several occasions,” alleged Sharan Pumpwell, district general secretary of Bajrang Dal. “Our workers had been tracking him. He had also been supporting the cause of Naxals. What irked us more was that he was a government employee and an assistant professor in the University College. He should resign from his job if he wanted to sympathise with the Naxals,” Pumpwell said.It could be recalled that, in 2010, Somayaji made a speech in a rally organised by the Popular Front of India resulting in the rustication of some students. The university officials, however, were tight-lipped about the incident.

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