As the media is abuzz with the sensational arrest of the ‘most wanted’ alleged leaders of the Western Ghat Committee of the CPI (Maoist), what is being conveniently (or cleverly) kept aside by the reports that pour out in the media is the story of the abduction and illegal detention of Shyna, Roopesh, Kannan, Anoop and Veeramani for days together in Andhra Pradesh. And the little that one could gather from the jigsaw puzzles that trickle down from the many stories in the media is that Roopesh and Shyna were on their journey for knee treatment while they were abducted by the police belonging to the APSIB from Vindhya Nagar (as disclosed by Roopesh before the media) in Andhra Pradesh.
They had to resort to hunger strike as they were denied legal help for days together. What is apparently clear from the disclosure before the court is that they were subjected to torture and were not allowed to sleep for days. The police kept briefing the media that they were (especially Roopesh) not cooperating with the police. One wonders what that exactly means! The APSIB is known for slapping ‘confessional’ statements on political prisoners and foisting several cases on the bases of such ‘confessions’ and then drag others also into such cases solely based on such statements which at the end of the day are not admissible in the court of law. But as can be seen from the lamentation of the Supreme Court itself it takes the courts years to finally give justice to the accused! Further when the media faithfully parrots the statement of the police highlighting the ‘alleged non-cooperation’ of Roopesh it adds to the vilification of the detained as it is his fundamental right to remain silent and also to decide what and what not to answer. So when the media reports about the non-cooperation of Mr. Roopesh, himself a law graduate, it is conceding the ground for the consent to do whatever that can be to ‘make’ (read torture) him ‘cooperate’ with the police. It is the responsibility of the police to do superior investigation to gather incontrovertible evidence which can be used for interrogation.
But in India which claims to be the largest democracy we keep hearing sordid and dehumanizing tales of torture indulged in by the police after the arrest or detention of people whom they think are inconvenient to the way that things are. In other words here the police will first detain the person and then starts the investigation. With such draconian laws as the UAPA, the room for acts of impunity abounds for the police with six long months to file a charge sheet and the easy provisions of continuous detention under police custody guaranteed in the act. It should be noted that there are clear cut guidelines set by the Supreme Court as is evident in the DK Basu judgement to safeguard the arrested from torture at it clearly says that anyone who is detained should be produced before the court of law within 24 hours. It also stresses the right to silence of the detained as a right guaranteed under police custody against incriminating oneself. The right to a lawyer of one’s choice is further guaranteed. But as usual all these violations have been swept beneath carpet in the hyperbole of a sensational story of arrest of the ‘most wanted’ on whom the law can take a holiday.
At a time when people who have been convicted by the courts of law for crimes against humanity such as Maya Kodnani—whose 28 years sentence by the Special SIT court for the Naroda Patiya massacre of Muslims was suspended by the HC of Gujarat—are walking free, it is indeed telling to note that the ‘largest democracy in the world’ denies the fundamental rights of political prisoners like Kannan, Anoop, Veeramani, Roopesh and Shyna that is vilified further by their media portrayal as the ‘biggest catches’ and so on. The only crime of these political prisoners is that they have given their lives for realizing a world free from all forms of violence such as domination, discrimination, oppression and exploitation. The maturity and vibrant nature of a true democracy is tested in its malleability to politically engage with differing and diametrically opposing visions; that is what really makes it a true democracy.
We demand the unconditional release of Roopesh, Shyna, Anoop, Veeramani and Kannan immediately!
SAR Geelani, President
Amit Bhattacharyya Secretary General
Sukhendu Bhattacharjee Vice President
MN Ravunni Vice President
PA Sebastian Vice President
Rona Wilson Secretary, Public Relations