Silencing Rights Activists

The national investigation Agency (NIA) is conducting raids at the premises of several Adivasi, Dalit and human rights activists in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The raids are being conducted to investigate the activists for "their alleged links with Maoists". The raids began on March 31 and have been reported to have continued till the early hours of April 1. The NIA has seized the phones, computers, laptops and some books and papers from most of the premises raided.

The central anti-terror probe agency is said to have booked at least 64 people—mostly activists and a journalist—under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and also accused them of Sedition "for helping Maoists in their activities". Those raided include Chilika Chandrasekhar (general secretary of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee), VS Krishna, Human Rights Forum (HRF) coordinator for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh—who have been speaking against Andhra's anti-Naxal force—the Greyhounds—for allegedly raping 11 tribal women in 2007 in the Vakapalli incident; and Duddu Prabhakar (a prominent Dalit activist). In 2019 nearly 2000 people were arrested under UAPA. Modi's autocracy is a terror machine to silence democrats and civil liberties activists, all in the name of curbing naxalism. The continuing witch-hunting is a nightmare for the peace-loving people of Andhra and Telangana.

It is NIA's second case against social activists after the Bhima-Koregaon probe, in which several human rights crusaders like Sudha Bhardwaj, Anand Teltumbde, Professor Hany Babu MT, Father Stan Swamy have been arrested and denied bail.

People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) shared that the two FIRs were filed by the Andhra Pradesh police, the first in Munchingput Police Station, Visakhapatnam (47/2020) dated  November 23, 2020, and the second in Guntur district FIR number 606/202, filed at Piduguralla town police station, dated November 24, 2020. "A total of 80 people were accused in the FIR number 47/2020, with 27 people being common with those named in the Guntur FIR. The sections under which the Munchingput FIR was lodged were as follows, 120(B), 121, 121(A), 143, 144, 124(A) r/w 149 (All IPC Sections), UAPA sections 10, 13 and 18, AP Public Security Act, 8(1) and 8(2) and section 25 of the Arms Act," shared PUCL. The NIA took over investigation of the Munchingput police station FIR on March 7 2021 and the FIR number RC-1/2021/NIA/HYD was lodged by NIA.

The NIA began its raids on March 31, at the homes of the eminent activists who work for who mostly belong to Human Rights, Civil liberties, women's and writers organisations and are academics, writers, feminists and lawyers. They include: Revolutionary Writers Association, Paani, (Kurnool district), Varalakshmi (Kadapa District), Arun (Kurnool District), Chaitanya Mahila Sangam, Devendra, Shilpa, Swapna, Rajeswari (Guntur), Padma (Vishakhapatnam), Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Raghunath, Hyderabad, Chilika Chandrashekhar (Guntur District), Chitti Babu, (East Godavari), Human Rights Forum (HRF), Krishna (Vishakhapatnam) Prajakala Mandali, Dappu Ramesh, (Hyderabad), Amarula Bandhu Mitrula Sangham Friends and Relatives of Marxists (ABMS), Anjamma (Prakasham District), Sirisha, (Prakasham district), Advocate, KS Chelam of Vishakhapatnam.

PUCL has condemned these raids calling them a "witch hunt" and "an effort to silence activists, who have stood up against injustice and questioned all Governments. All these people were challenging anti democratic laws, illegal arrests and other undemocratic practices of the Indian State and their respective Governments of AP and Telangana, along with challenging caste and patriarchal violence against women, the hegemonic attacks by the Hindutva forces against Muslims, destruction in the name of development, protecting the land and forest rights of the people etc." The Human Rights Forum (HRF) has issued a statement condemning the raids and said they were "clearly an exercise in intimidation to stifle lawful dissent and protest. We have no hesitation in stating that the contents of the FIRs are a litany of lies".

Back to Home Page

Vol. 53, No. 42, Apr 18 - 24, 2021