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Let’s defend the human rights defenders!

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Dear friends, 

On Monday 13th February 2017, arguments were heard in the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur regarding release on bail of the fact finding team members from Telangana lodged in Sukma jail which includes my husband High court advocate Balla Ravindranath, High court advocate Prabhakar Chikkudu, Journalist Durgaprasad Bandi, KNPS leader Prabhakar Duddu,Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika leaders Md Nazir and K Rajendra Prasad, and Adivasi Tudum Debba leader R Laxmaiah . On pursuing the documents filed by us, the judge told that the case has become sensitive and directed the government to reply and on his own gave them two weeks time and listed the case on 6th March 2017. The bail petition was filed by us on 23-01-2017 and it came for admission on 30-01-17, then the court gave sufficient time to the govt for calling of case diary and filing of counter affidavit and listed it on 13th February but now again two weeks extension has been granted. In this entire drama govt didn’t ask the judge for any date or adjournment. We all know that justice delayed is justice denied. Earlier they were refused bail by the Dantewada district court on 3rd January saying that the case is of serious nature and asking the team whether they had any permission to enter Naxal affected area of Chhattisgarh even as the police failed to produce all the circumstantial evidence allegedly seized from them. They have been in jail since 25th December and their judicial remand has been extended thrice by the Sukma Court in apprehension that they may affect investigation and witnesses. Next date for their appearance in court is 20th February. If this kind of apathy is shown by judiciary towards a team of reputed citizens including lawyers, journalists, activists who, because of their social commitment were going for fact finding as they considered it their duty to expose the atrocities committed upon Adivasis who are also, but not considered citizens of India, then we can only begin to imagine what must be the state of hundreds of ordinary people in Chhattisgarh’s jails. Recently an appeal was made by eminent personalities to restore rule of law in Bastar called the ‘Bastar Declaration’. It is high time that we defend the defenders. I appeal to all the Democrats, intellectuals, progressive thinkers to raise their voices against such injustice to human rights defenders and demand Chhattisgarh govt to release the Fact Finding team unconditionally and Telangana govt to owe responsibility for their unlawful arrest. Please support us in our fight to save the Democratic values of our country.

                        

Background:

On 25th December 2016, a seven member fact finding team of Telangana Democratic Front was illegally arrested by Telangana police at Dummugudem near Bhadrachalam and handed over to Chhattisgarh police even as the team was on their way to inquire into various allegations of human rights violations of Adivasis by security forces in Chhattisgarh including but not limited to killing of Punem Nandu son of a local Congress leader and his friend Karkem Sukku in Timmapur of Bijapur by CRPF on 12th December 2016. The team was booked under sections 8(1)(2)(3)(5) of Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005, which has been described as black law and many rights organizations have demanded its repeal.

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