Seven members of fact-finding commission on way to Chattisgarh arrested in Telangana, handed over to Chattisgarh Police

By Staff Reporter

A 7-member team of lawyers, journalists and human rights activists belonging to the Telangana Democratic Forum and other organisations have been arrested and handed over to the Chattisgarh Police.

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The team, December 25, 2016 was in the village of Dummagudam village of Bhadrachalam District of Telangana and were planning to visit Chhattisgarh to enquire into complaints of human rights violations suffered by Adivasis of Chhattisgarh at the hands of security forces. The seven members of the team: Balla Ravindranath, Advocate.High Court, AP and Telangana, Chikkudu Prabhaker, Advocate, Durga Prasad, Journalist Hyderabad, Duddu Prabhaker, President, AP Kula Nirmulana Poratta Samiti, Rajendra Prasad, Telangana Vidhyarthi Vedika, Nazeer, Telangana Vidhyarthi Vedika and Ramananda Lakshmay, were arrested and handed over to Chhattisgarh police at Kunta Police Station on the same day.

Earlier today, all the 7 persons were produced before the remanding Court in Sukma and remanded to custody under sections 8(1), (2) and (3) of the Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act. At the time of production before the remand court, the Chhattisgarh police is reported to have informed the court that the 7 persons were arrested in Chhattisgarh state.

Human rights organisation PUCL expressed shock at the brazen abuse of the law committed by both Telangana state police and the Chhattisgarh police. “When they were arrested in Telangana by the Telangana police, the courts in Chattisgarh have no jurisdiction and they should have been produced before a Court in Telangana alone…the SC has clarified the law on numerous occasions, that if the persons shown as arrested will not escape or evade justice or threaten witnesses or destroy evidence, there is no reason to remand them to custody and they can be released and asked to appear as and when required. It should be noted that the arrested persons include a lawyers of the High Courts, journalists and others. So there was no need to remand them, if at all the police wanted to prosecute them,” the organisation said in a press release.

“The brazen disregard for the law has been reportedly compounded by the Chhattisgarh police reportedly misleading the remanding court in Sukma that the 7 persons
were arrested within Chhattisgarh state itself,” the release added.

PUCL pointed out that the open abuse of the law by the Chhattisgarh police will have to be seen against the backdrop of the remarks passed recently by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which remarked that the complaints about widespread abuse of law and unleashing of violence by security forces in Chhattisgarh cannot be ignored or taken lightly.

The NHRC had in fact summoned the Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh government and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kalluri, who is accused of masterminding the repressive actions of the police, to appear before the Commission.

“PUCL demands that the Chhattisgarh police immediately drops all charges against the 7 member team and release them from custody. PUCL also demands that the NHRC should immediately intervene in the issue, ascertain facts, especially the reported untruths about the arrest of the 7-member Fact Finding Team who were arrested in Telangana but claimed to have been arrested in Chhattisgarh, and to initiate criminal prosecution against the Police officials of both states, if they are found to have abused the law,” the press release added.