Published on Combat Law, Vol 7 Issue 2, March-April 2008.
The ‘Naxal threat’ has suddenly surfaced in Uttarakhand. It is a state government’s ploy to demand crores of rupees from the Centre. To bolster this claim an innocent journalist, Prashant Rahi, is arrested.
His daughter Shikha Rahi writes:
I do not remember coming across a news report on any kind of naxalite activity in the state of Uttarakhand till the Chief Minister’s conference on internal security, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was held on December 20, 2007. Addressing the Chief Ministers, the Prime Minister said, “I have said in the past that Left Wing extremism is probably the single biggest security challenge to the Indian state. It continues to be so and we cannot rest in peace until we have eliminated this virus.” Giving assurance of providing support to the states for improving internal security he said, “We need to cripple the hold of Naxalite forces with all the means at our command”.
This conference brought to my notice that Uttarakhand is also now one of the states which faces the red threat, as the Chief Minister of the State BC Khanduri spoke of armed men, suspected to be Maoists, who were seen in the Kumaun region of Uttarakhand. According to Khanduri, since Uttarakhand lies on the Nepal border it faces greater threat of Maoists filtering in from the border. In order to beef up internal security, and ward off the menace of these “Maoist monsters,” Khanduri demanded Rs 208 crores from the centre …
… In violation of constitutional norms, Prashant Rahi was not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. He was produced before the magistrate only on December 23, 2007. He was not allowed to contact a lawyer, relative or a friend after his arrest. After torturing him mentally as well as physically for five days, he has falsely been implicated under sections 120 B, 121, 121A, 124A, 153B of the Indian Penal Code and sections 10 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Originally from Maharashtra, my father did an M Tech from Banaras Hindu University but opted to become a journalist. A former correspondent of The Statesman (Delhi), he has been working in Uttarakhand for the last many years as a journalist and social activist. The fundamental rights and constitutional safeguards that the Police have so blatantly violated in case of Prashant Rahi are guaranteed to all citizens of India, regardless of what political or ideological views they may hold or what crime they may have been charged with. Such gross violation of rights by the police should not be condoned. If such a thing could happen to Prashant Rahi who is a highly educated and reasonably well connected person, I shudder to think of the fate of the less fortunate at the hands of the police. (full longtext).
Link: Lavanam’s open letter to Naxalite (Maoist) friends.