Scribe’s daughter fights against his ‘wrongful’ detention


New Delhi : The daughter of jailed journalist Prashant Rahi, who was held for his alleged links with Maoists, Saturday said that her father had been arrested on “false charges” as he had raised his voice against police atrocities.

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“He is a victim of extra-judicial execution. He used to raise his voice against police atrocities. (He) always fought for the people’s cause, and finally fell prey to police conspiracy. The police appear bent on proving him to be a Maoist commander,” his daughter Sikha Rahi told IANS.

Sikha, along with around 125 people, was in the capital to depose before the Independent People’s Tribunal on ‘Torture, Extra-judicial Executions and Forced Disappearances’ held at Jawaharlal Nehru University by about 25 independent human rights organisations.

Formerly associated with The Statesman, Prashant was detained by the Uttarakhand Police in Dehradun on Dec 17, 2007.

“First he was put in Haldwani jail, and later shifted to Dehradun jail. I cannot describe how much he was tortured,” said Sikha, who worked as an assistant director for Aamir Khan’s hit film “Taare Zameen Par”.

“As a journalist, Prashant always fought for the people in general. He participated in the Uttarakhand movement, and fought aggressively for the rehabilitation of Tehri dam victims. He is now in jail on false charges. What a pity!” said Colin Gonsalves, founder-director of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN).

Apart from Sikha, there were many others who narrated the trauma they were undergoing due to the wrongful detention of their relatives.

Bibi Khatoon from Godhra described how her three sons were picked up after the burning of the train in Godhra in 2002, which was followed by widespread communal riots. Two of her sons are still missing.

“It is my faith in Allah and the people of the country that brought me here. Otherwise I have lost any hope of justice,” she said.

Bakti, a Srinagar resident and mother of Manzoor Alam who went missing after security forces allegedly arrested him in 2001, broke down while deposing before the people’s tribunal.

“Over 1,000 people are missing from Jammu and Kashmir. The government is not ready to tell us their whereabouts. We must be told where they have been kept if alive or where they were buried if dead,” said Parveen Ahangar, who is fighting for the relatives of those who disappeared from the valley.

The jurists of the people’s tribunal included Justice Malay Sengupta, former president of Bar Council of India Dhairyasheel Patil, advocate P.A. Sebastian, Justice S.D. Singh, advocates Vrinda Grover and Navkiran Singh and activist Shabnam Hashmi.

“The government must wake up to the cries of the dependents of those innocents languishing in jails. Every effort should be made to trace them, and those in jails should be freed immediately,” Colin told reporters.

People had come from across the country, including Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttarakhand, to participate in the tribunal, he said.