PUCL Bulletin, July 2003

Andhra Pradesh
Civil liberties activists assaulted

-- By Prof. S. Seshaiah, Secretary, APCLC (By E-mail

Andhra Pradesh civil liberties activists have been subjected to harassment and threats on several occasions for defending human rights and exposing the state police excess. Yet another incident took place recently at Rayachoti in Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh State where the Policemen brutally attacked the human rights defenders belonging to Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) and Revolutionary Writers Association (RWA).

On 25.05.2003 at Rayachoti town, a Special Police party lead by Additional Superintendent of Police (A.S.P.) of Kadapa District Mr. Narasinga Rao attacked and assaulted the APCLC state committee leaders R. Shameer Basha, a lecturer and Kranthi Chaithanya, an advocate and the Kadapa district committee activists C. Jawahar Babu, B. Bhaskar, A. Hameed, R. Ravishankar and G. Muralikrishna and RWA State General Secretary G. Pinakapani, a teacher and its Kadapa District Committee activists S. Ravikumar, Shaik Shafi and P. Varalakshmi.

The lathi charge (usually a cane beating by police to disperse but this time the special police used special hard sticks) was so severe that Shameer Basha had received fractural injury on the right hand and a severe injury on his left eye, whereas Kranthi Chaitany's right foot and foot fingers were badly damaged. All of the 11 activists were beaten severely on several parts of their bodies that the lathi marks can be seen even after a week. The Police lathi charged unwarrantedly on the above activists for their peaceful protest activity in connection with a fake encounter killing of 4 persons including a woman naxalite that happened on the previous day there.

On 23.05.2003, on the hillock of Chakibanda forest near Rayachoti in Kadapa district, the Gray Hounds Police Party (a Special wing of AP Police exclusively formed to physically eliminate Maoist naxalite activists) killed two Naxalites belonging to the banned CPI (ML) People's War. They fired from a hideout, first at the woman naxalite Sandhya while she was bringing water and they killed naxalite Prasad, who was resting as a patient under a tree, both Naxalites were unarmed at the time of Police firing and they could have arrested them with life. The same Police also injured two innocent village shepherds Kadirappa Nayudu and Ramanappa Nayudu who happen to be there at that firing place with their sheep. Though the injured shepherds were caught with life the Gray Hounds Police party killed them as they happened to be the direct witnesses to the extra judicial killing of unarmed Naxalites by Gray Hounds police.

On this the APCLC state committee leaders R. Shameer Basha and Kranthi Chaithanya and the Kadapa district committee leaders conducted fact finding which revealed that the Police deliberately killed all the 4 persons in the name of encounter in spite of there being a chance of arresting them. APCLC arranged a press meet with the other injured-shepherd-witnesses who could manage to escape from scene of firing and with the family members of those innocent victim-shepherds of the encounter incident which were exposed widely to the public. One of the naxalite encounter killing victim Mr. Prasad (50), is a state committee leader of CPI (ML) Peoples War and also a Revolutionary Writer and so the RWA activists came to pay their last respects to him by putting red flag over the dead body and by giving revolutionary slogans.

In fact on 25.6.03 the RWA activists were helping Mr. Vijaykumar, a Professor of IIT Kharagpur, the brother of deceased naxalite Prasad to take out his dead body from the Rayachoti Hospital to his native place. APCLC activists were standing at NGO home near the Hospital. As the APCLC and RWA activity of exposing the killing of innocent Shepherds and unarmed naxalites in the name of encounter evoked much public criticism, the police wanted to retaliate. This is the reason for the brutal lathi charge by the police on the activists on 25.6.03. The police beat Mr. Vijay Kumar also who opposed lathi charge on the RWA and APCLC activists. To justify the brutal attack of police they foisted a false case against the above 11 activists of APCLC and RWA.

The police arrested them on the allegation that APCLC and RWA members formed into unlawful assembly and pelted stones and prevented police from their official duties, which is absolutely false. The police took them to Rayachoti Police Station beating them ruthlessly with ) rifle buts and verbally abusing in filthy language. During the custody they were warned to disassociate from civil liberties activity. They were not given medical treatment and also denied access to their friends, relatives and advocates. This is absolute violation of Supreme Court of India's guidelines to the Police given in D.K. Basu case in the matter of arrest and detention.

APCLC demands withdrawal of the false case against the 11 activists; a judicial enquiry into the encounter incident; punishment to the erring police; and compensation to the victim shepherd families.

APCLC condemns this type of criminalisation of activities of Human Rights defenders and thereby justifying the violation of Human Rights by Police. This is to silence APCLC and it is not new to Andhra Pradesh Police. Unless there is a strong protest from the wide sections of people especially those who are seriously concerned with Human Rights the repeat of such incidents will continue to take place.

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