COIMBATORE:Activists from more than 20 outfits, including political parties and civil society groups, under the banner of the Organisation for the Protection of Democratic Rights, petitioned city Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan, against what they perceived to be a witch-hunt by the police against people from disenfranchised communities, for simply supporting subversive ideologies. In their petition, the activists said that since May 2014, 10 persons were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Following the arrest of five alleged Maoists near Karumathampatty last month, three others were arrested near Pollachi for allegedly inducting a 23-year-old youth into the Maoist movement.
Two more were arrested by Coimbatore city police for allegedly raising slogans in front of the Q Branch office in HUDCO Colony. The petitioners alleged that five of the 10 persons arrested were Dalits, and that the police were misusing the UAPA and clamping down on dissidents. They said that the now defunct preventative detention laws, such as the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) had been used to crack down on the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression granted to civilians. The 26/11 bombings in Mumbai had been used to justify the framing and enactment of the UAPA, which still had the repressive and draconian measures from the POTA and TADA Acts, they said.
The laws had been used in the past to unjustly charge and imprison Dalits and people from tribal communities, they alleged. The petition went onto outline the 2004 verdict by the Supreme Court that by simply expressing support to a banned group could not be construed as a criminal offense. The recent verdict of the Kerala High Court, which had again reinforced the verdict of the apex court, in a separate case, was also highlighted. The petitioners alleged that those with political ideas and beliefs, which questioned the authority of the state, were being subjected to arbitrary arrests and that the rights of these arrested people are being crushed by the state apparatus. Responding to the petition, CoP Viswanathan, said that there was no concerted effort to clamp down on any legal organisation.
He said that the two organisations to which the two persons who were arrested by Peelamedu police belonged to, had been given permission in the past to stage protests and other events. He contended that the arrests had been made not because of the ideologies or political affiliations of the two men, but because of their involvement in an unlawful act – the raising of slogans in front of the Q Branch office. The organisation also submitted a copy of the petition to district Superintendent of Police M Sudhakar. ‘Maoist’ Kannan Produced in Court One of the five Maoists arrested from Karumathampatty last month, C Kannan was produced before the Principal District Judge R Pongiappan on Wednesday in connection with a case in the jurisdiction of the Aliyar Police.
Based on a confession by one of the three men arrested a few days ago, police claim that Kannan and the other suspects, had inducted a 23-year-old youth into the Maoist movement. Kannan was produced before the judge, who remanded him to judicial custody till July 2. Kannan claimed before the judge that he was innocent of the charges.