Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Activists raise voice to free Pasha, protect their rights

New Delhi, Jun 23 (UNI) Calling the arrest of Abdul Shakeel Pasha, a senior operative of Maoists, a conspiracy, various civil society groups today alleged that government is on a witch-hunt for rights' activists in the name of anti-Maoist operations.

''Under the garb of anti-Naxal and anti-Maoists operations, the Central and state governments have declared a semi-emergency,'' social activist Shabnam Hashmi said.

She said the time has come when if a person raises voice against the Central authorities, ''he is claimed a Naxal or a Maoist.''

On one hand they talked of initiating peace talks with the rebels, while on the other they arrested such great activist on the basis of their past, she noted. ''Is it a crime to have ideology? It is our constitutional right to raise voice against whatever we feel is wrong or unacceptable,'' Ms Hashmi said.

She alleged that the government had held innocent Muslim men for either belonging to terrorist groups or being one and the same was being done with the Rights' activists and civil society groups. Pasha, accused of recruiting youth from south Gujarat and
Ahmedabad for the organisation, was arrested by police on June 18 and brought to Surat on a transfer warrant the next day. There he was produced before a local court at Kathor village, which remanded him to police custody for seven days.

He was closely associated with People's War Group (PWG) and has worked in Gujarat. Before him, the police had arrested 13 other accused for their alleged involvement in anti-Naxal movement in Gujarat. They include Niranjan Mohapatra, K N Singh, Maka Chaudhary, Avinash Kulkarni, Ramu Puwar, Bharat Puwar, Sulat Puwar, Jayram Goswami,
Satyam Rao, Vishwanath Iyer, Surya Dewra Prabhakar and Venkataiya Kuttupatti.

Tanveer Afaque, another activist who has closely worked with Pasha for many years, termed the act of arresting these people incarceration of trade unionists, forest right activists and ordinary workers. ''They had demanded that the Constitutional Rights of the people be restored. Is a new, but unannounced, emergency creeping
silently across the nation?'' he asked.

The members demanded that the authorities stop playing an unfair game against the activists. ''Pasha should be given a fair trial and released on bail too,'' Mr Afaque said.

The civil society groups present in the forum included Haq, Anhad, Aman Biradari, Peace, Insaf, Delhi Solidarity Group, National Alliance of People's Movements, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, Hazard Centre, South Asia forum for Human Rights, Human Rights Law Network, New Trade Union Initiative, Shahri Adhikar Manch, People's Union for Civil Liberties, among others.

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