The Bastar police on Monday arrested seven people from Hyderabad, Telangana who were on a fact finding mission,inside the Chhattisgarh border in Sukma district. The arrested belonged to the Telangana Democratic Front (TDF) and were on the way to probe the numerous fake encounters of tribals in Bastar. The team included social activist Durga Prasad (36) of Hyderabad, R. Laxmaiyya (45), secretary of Adivasi Tudem Dubba, Khammam, journalists D. Prabhakar (52) and Rajendra Prasad (28) from Hyderabad, High court advocates, Chikkudu Prabhakar Rao (48) and B. Ravindra Nath (42) Hyderabad and Mohammad Nazim (27),a research scholar from Osmania University.
They were arrested under the CSPSA, a draconian act resembling the older TADA. The Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act passed by the Chhattisgarh assembly in December 2005 authorises police to detain a person for committing acts which show a “tendency to pose an obstacle to the administration of law”. In other words it gives the police power to detain and prosecute anyone in the name of law enforcement.
“The accused were found with old currency notes and some important Naxal-related documents. They were arrested and booked and were produced in court,” Indira Kalyan Elesela, SP of Sukma said.
One of the arrested members of the TDF team, 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.
Chattisgarh has become an epicentre for violence since the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared that Naxalism is the most important internal security threat to India. Here many journalists have been arrested, forced to leave. Even social activists have not been spared by the state in its intimidating avatar. Just last month, a murder case was registerd against Nandini Sundar, a Delhi University professor by the Chattisgarh police. She has been working extensively for the rights of tribals in Bastar. She petitioned the Supreme court and brought a stay on the case.
Meanwhile revolutionary poet Varavara Rao and many Civil Liberties activists have condemned the arrest of civilians, blamed the Telangana police squarely and have planned protests in Hyderabad and rest of Telangana, demanding unconditional release of the arrested activists.