Asit Das asit1917 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 6 01:35:13 CDT 2013

Arrest of Hem Mishra and Prashant Rahi:Silencing voices questioning
violation of fundamental rights

 The Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) strongly
condemns the arrest of Prashant Rahi and Hem Mishra, accusing them of Naxal
links. Though the exact date of Hem Mishra’s arrest is yet to be
ascertained, he was most probably picked up by the police around  around
15th  August. Prashant Rahi was on the other hand was arrested on the 2nd
September. The allegation against both of them is that they were carrying
some documents/ literature.   Both have been charged under the notorious
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA]. Both are serving a long period
of police remand without being provided a lawyer.
Hem Mishra (32 years) had been active with a student organization in
Uttarakhand before coming to Delhi, when he obtained admission at the
Jawaharlal Nehru University. In the year 2007/08, a number of activists
involved in organizing youth and the rural poor in Uttarakhand were
arrested on the allegation of Maoist links. So potent was the terror
unleashed, that few would dare to question the allegations or meet the
arrested persons for fear of being implicated. Hem Mishra, handicapped in
one hand, was the person who visited all the arrested in jail and helped
them get legal support. One of the arrested at that time was Prashant Rahi.

Prashant Rahi (52 years) worked as a journalist in Uttarakhand. He was also
passionately involved with a host of protest movements ranging from issues
of forest-dwellers, and of rural labour, to the displacement by the Tehri
dam. Arrested in December 2007, alleged to be a most-senior Maoist leader,
Prashant was kept in solitary confinement through most his 3 year 8 month
stay in the jail. Once released on bail, Prashant took upon himself to
visit those imprisoned as Naxalites all over the country and to help them
obtain access to a lawyer. To this end, he was regularly travelling to
across the country collecting details of cases and reaching the same to

That there is no real allegation of any crime against both Hem Mishra and
Prashant Rahi, it is evident from the fact that both have been charged
solely on the basis of the UAPA. For, it is this law that makes normal
social and political activity into a crime solely on the whims and fancies
of the police. Banning of political organisations and converting any
association with such organizations and their opinions into a crime is what
opens the gates to the law becoming an instrument of injustice.

In addition, the illegal, yet reasonably settled practice of the police of
not registering a panchnama at the time of the detention, makes it
difficult to ascertain the exact date, time and place of arrest. Such
unlawful detention leaves much scope for abuse. It is ironical, in cases
where UAPA is applied,  courts  have been less critical of the blatant
violations of procedure, in the name of larger security concerns.

Thus while the alleged “crime” as well as the circumstances of the arrest
remain suspect, a vilification campaign has been mounted by the police that
masquerades as information in the newspapers. No doubt, that this has
become the preferred method to silence those working for basic civil
liberties and implementation of fundamental rights.

Another favourite practice of the police has been to foist new cases
against accused, especially under the UAPA and its previous incarnations,
when those accused are either released on bail or else when acquittal in
the existing cases is at hand. This has been done ad nauseum to frustrate
the bail or acquittal orders of the court and has not yet found serious
criticism from the judiciary. In the case against Prashant Rahi too, no
incriminating evidence has been found against him in the case in
Uttarakhand and he would be acquitted soon.
We therefore demand the immediate dropping of all charges under the UAPA
and the immediate release of those arrested.

*Kranthi Chetanya (APCLC, Andhra Pradesh), Paramjeet Singh (PUDR, Delhi),
Parmindar Singh (AFDR, Punjab), Phulendro Konsam (COHR, Manipur) and Tapas
Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal) *
*(Coordinators of CDRO).*
*Constituent Organisations:** Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee
(APCLC); Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West
Bengal); Bandi Mukti Morcha (West Bengal); Committee for Protection of
Democratic Rights (CPDR, Mumbai); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR,
Manipur); Human Rights Forum (HRF, Andhra Pradesh); Manab Adhikar Sangram
Samiti (MASS), Assam; Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR);
Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights (OPDR, Andhra Pradesh);
Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples
Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Peoples Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL,
Chhattisgarh); Peoples Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL, Jharkhand); Peoples
Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL, Nagpur); Peoples Union For Civil Liberties
(PUCL, Rajasthan);  Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi);
Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana) and Campaign for Peace &
Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi*

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