On October 18, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested activists Brijesh Kushwaha of the Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Manch and Prabha Kushwaha of the Savitri Bai Phule Sangharsh Samiti. Both are married and Prabha is three months pregnant. She had travelled to her maternal home in Raipur, Chhattisgarh to be with her family. In 2019, the activists were named in an FIR but were not arrested due to lack of “credible material evidence.” The ATS at the time had seized the electronic devices of the two activists and now claims that the forensic science laboratory has discovered Maoist literature on their devices and that the two are engaged in “anti-national activities and spreading Communist ideology.” In 2019 under the same FIR, activist and academic Manish Azad and his wife Anita were arrested too.
The timings of these arrests is highly suspect. The first FIR was filed right around the time of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and once again, arrests of democratic rights activists are being made prior to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. NIA has been conducting raids all across the country in the name of “Maoist links” and targeting democratic rights activists, intellectuals and lawyers to silence them prior to the elections. Even in cases where there was no evidence found, four years later evidence magically appears in the hands of the government agencies. This is reminiscent of the situation the late Fr. Stan Swamy was in, wherein it was found that evidence was planted on his electronic devices seized by the police. It seems past charges are being used as a buffer to target to democratic rights activists at future instances so as to both keep a sword against their necks while also initiating proceedings at random times to silence them when the politics of the ruling party requires. Be it in the name of “Chinese terror funding” or “Maoist links,” the government is willing to use any methods necessary to silence any democratic voice.
Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) condemns the arrests made against democratic rights activists.
CASR demands the immediate release of all political prisoners and an end to politically motivated arrests.
Campaign Against State Repression
(AIRSO,AISA, AISF, APCR,BASF, BSM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, bsCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, Forum Against Repression Telangana, Fraternity ,IAPL, Innocence Network, Karnataka Janashakti, LAA,Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, , Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, Nishant Natya Manch, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad,Smajwadi lok manch, Bahujan Samjavadi Mnach, SFI, United Against Hate, United Peace Alliance, WSS,Y4S)