Political Prisoners

National Human Rights Commission notice to Kerala over arrest of rights activists

arundhatiroyCooperSarathiTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM/KOZHIKODE: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday issued notice to the state government over the arrest of two human rights activists- Thushar Nirmal Sarathy and Jaison C Cooper- for alleged Maoists links. The NHRC took suo motu cognizance of a media report that the state government was targeting human rights defenders and rights activists by labelling them as Maoist sympathizers. It issued a notice to the state’s director general of police, seeking a report within two weeks. The commission observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise a serious issue – violation of human rights of those who stand up for other people’s rights.
Reportedly, both Sarathy and Cooper were actively engaged in peasants’ struggles against land acquisition, illegal rock quarrying, forcible evictions, and the violation of labour rights of migrant workers in the state as well as struggles against various polluting industries. Thushar Nirmal Sarathy and Jaison C Cooper, who were arrested under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA),have been in prison since January 30, 2015. While Cooper was arrested from Kochi on January 29, Sarathy was arrested after a press conference in Kozhikode on the same day. Human rights experts welcomed the decision of NHRC. “The police have not been able to establish a link between the arrested and Maoists. Such matters are to be established in a court of law.
What is more alarming is that the police have also charged them under UAPA which denies bail. Both of them are established human rights activists and Sarathy is a lawyer and an office bearer of a human rights organization. The action taken by the police is not at all justified,” said human rights expert B R P Bhaskar. Earlier, a group of human rights activists had met home minister Ramesh Chennithala seeking his intervention to release Thushar and Jaison from prison. The delegation comprising B R P Bhaskar, A Vasu, Bhasurendra Babu, J Devika, Gouridasan Nair and Jolly Chirayath told the minister that such reckless police actions would create more extremists in society.
“The minister assured us that he will look into the issue. We told that there is a nation-wide protest against their arrest and handed over a memorandum. The minister wanted us to condemn Maoist violence. We said that the incidents involving Maoists were less in intensity compared to the violence unleashed by the activists of some of the mainstream political parties during their agitations,” said Jolly.

High Court rejects again bail pleas of Jaison C. Cooper and Thushar Nirmal Sarathy
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed the bail pleas of two persons arrested on charges of having links with outlawed CPI (Maoist). Justice B. Kemal Pasha, while rejecting the bail petitions by Jaison C. Cooper of Fort Kochi and Thushar Nirmal Sarathy of Palakkad, observed that the charges against them had to be thoroughly investigated. The court said that it was premature to consider releasing them on bail given the seriousness of the allegations against them and the present stage of investigation. The cases were registered after conducting raids at the resident of the petitioners at Tripunithura. The police seized minutes books of the Janakeeya Manushyavakasha Prasthanam, which, according to the police, was a frontal organisation of the CPI (Maoist).
Opposing the bail, Director General of Prosecution T. Asaf Ali submitted that continued investigation was required as incriminating documents had been unearthed. He contended that the minutes book of the organisation showed that it had supported bloodshed and violence committed by frontal organisations of the Maoists. He submitted that the activities of such organisations which tended to overthrow constitutionally elected governments could not be whitewashed.


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