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Fact-finding team from Telangana held in Sukma

The team was travelling to Chhattisgarh to investigate reports of large-scale fake encounters resulting in the deaths of tribals in the State.

27 December 2016

The Chhattisgarh police on Monday arrested seven members of a fact-finding team of the Telangana Democratic Front (TDF) and charged them under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act for allegedly possessing banned currency notes and Maoist literature.

The team comprised lawyers Balla Ravindranath, Chikkudu Prabhakar, D. Prabhakar, Durga Prasad, an independent journalist, and three research scholars from Osmania University — Nazeer, Rajendra Prasad and R. Lakshman.

The team was travelling to Chhattisgarh to investigate reports of large-scale fake encounters resulting in the deaths of tribals in the State.

[Read the full news article on the Hindu]

“The team had left Hyderabad on the morning of December 24. They were arrested by the Telangana police near Dummugudem village but the Telangana police handed them over to the Chhattisgarh police in Konta area of Sukma district,” Mr. Narayana Rao, TDF general secretary, alleged.

The Chhattisgarh police, however, claimed that the activists had been arrested from Dharmapenta village in Sukma district. Additional Superintendent of Police, Sukma, Jitendra Shukla confirmed that seven persons had been arrested for allegedly carrying Maoist literature and banned currency notes.

“They have been booked under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. Banned literature, books, and ₹1 lakh in cash have been recovered from them. They have been produced in the court. We are opposing their bail application,” Mr.Shukla told The Hindu.

According to local sources, the TDF fact-finding team has already been sent to Sukma jail on judicial remand.

Deny allegations

 

One of the arrested members of the TDF team, D. Prabhakar, told local journalists in Sukma that all the allegations against them were “baseless and planted by the police”.

“We were arrested from Dummugudem in Telangana and have been implicated in this case by Chhattisgarh police despite the later having no jurisdiction and rights. I am a high court lawyer and there are journalists and students in our team,” he said.

TDF convener Prof P.L. Visweswara Rao said the TDF delegation had met the Telangana Director General of Police and gave him a representation over the arrest of activists.

“We have demanded the unconditional release of all activists and a thorough inquiry in this case. All the arrested persons are practising advocates, human rights activists, and students. We are human rights defenders and have no banned currency or Maoist literature,” he said.

PUCL condemns

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has also condemned the arrests of the fact-finding team members calling it “illegal, unprovoked and malicious”.

[Read the full news article on the Hindu]