IMaoists blew up at least 12 buildings of the Jharkhand forest department in West Singhbhum district on Sunday, police said on Sunday.
According to Indrajit Mahatha, West Singhbhum superintendent of police (SP), over 100 Maoists attacked the buildings in Barkela forest range of Kolhan forest division on Saturday night.
“As per eyewitness forest department employees and their families, over 100 Maoists attacked the forest range office around 11.30 pm and blew up about 12-13 guard quarters, and a guest house along with dozens of seized and private vehicles till 2.30 am. They also burnt down some bikes. They had snatched away the mobile phones and threatened to kill anyone trying to phone or switch on any light. This led to information of the incident reaching the police late this (Sunday) morning,” Mahatha said.
The SP added that the CPI (Maoist) extremists were led by Central Committee member (CCM) Misir Besra and assisted by area commander Mocchu. There were some women members in the group who beat up women guard officers, the officer said.
“We are talking to senior forest officials to shift the employees and over a dozen families to the Chaibasa Township for their security,” added Mahatha.
Police and CRPF have launched intense operations in Sarjamburu-Sangajata forests where another CCM-cum-Politburo member Prashant Bose alias Kshan-da has been camping ever since Maoists shifted their eastern region bureau from Saranda forests to Sarjamburu.
“They have also pasted posters denouncing the Forest Right Act and calling upon the innocent tribal villagers to join and intensify the armed struggle to drive away the forest officials to secure their rights on jal, jangal and jameen (water, forest and land). They have been asking the village heads to send youths to join their ranks and kill police and SPOs. This is another ploy to incite villagers against forest officials, another government apparatus. They want to create a free buffer zone bereft of any police and administrative presence to have complete domination over the area and villagers under their reign of terror,” said the SP.
Kolhan DIG Rajiv Ranjan said this was old tactics of the Maoists. “Whenever they lose their foothold and become organizationally weak, they blow up schools, panchayat buildings, health centers, forest offices and guest houses to spread panic, protect their levy network. They are asking villagers to send their sons and daughters to join ranks because they have lost many extremists and control over the villagers. I appeal to the people to ponder who actually benefited from these so-called misleading fights for jal, jangal and jameen,” said Ranjan.
Press Note – July 12, 2020
We, the family members of Varavara Rao, world-renowned Telugu revolutionary poet and public intellectual, who is incarcerated in Navi Mumbaiʹs Taloja Jail, are very much worried about his deteriorating health. His health condition has been scary for over six weeks now, ever since he was shifted in an unconscious state to JJ Hospital from Taloja Jail on May 28, 2020. Even as he was discharged from the hospital and sent back to jail three days later, there has been no improvement in his health and he is still in need of emergency heathcare.
The immediate cause of concern now is that we are very much perturbed at the routine phone call we received from him on Saturday evening. Though the earlier two calls on June 24 and July 2 were also worrying with his weak and muffled voice, incoherent speech and abruptly jumping into Hindi. As an eloquent and articulate public speaker and writer in Telugu for over five decades, a Telugu teacher for four decades and known for his meticulous memory, this fumbling, incoherence and loss of memory were in themselves strange and frightening.
But the latest call, on July 11 is much more worrisome as he did not answer straight questions on his health and went into a kind of delirious and hallucinated talk about the funeral of his father and mother, the events that happened seven decades and four decades ago respectively. Then his co-accused companion took the phone from him and informed us that he is not able to walk, go to toilet and brush his teeth on his own. We were also told that he is always hallucinating that we, family members, were waiting at the jail gate to receive him as he was getting released. His co-prisoner also said he needs immediate medical care for not only physical but also neurological issues. The confusion, loss of memory and incoherence are the results of electrolyte imbalance and fall of Sodium and Potassium levels leading to brain damage. This electrolyte imbalance may be fatal also. Taloja Jail Hospital is not at all equipped to handle this kind of serious ailment either in medical expertise or equipment. Thus it is highly required that he be shifted to a fully equipped super specialty hospital to save his life and prevent possible brain damage and risk to life due to electrolyte imbalance.
At the present juncture we are leaving aside all the pertinent facts like, that the case against him is fabricated; he had to spend 22 months in jail as an undertrial with the process turned into punishment; his bail petitions got rejected at least five times now and even the bail petitions with his age, ill-health and Covid vulnerability as grounds were ignored. His life is the top most concern for us right now. Our present demand is to save his life. We demand the government to shift him to a better hospital or allow us to provide required medical care. We want to remind the government that it has no right to deny the right to life of any person, much less an undertrial prisoner.
P Hemalatha, wife
P Sahaja, P Anala, P Pavana, daughters
Police sources said they have seized three posters by CPI (Maoist), from the region in which the Ultras of Baghuna Division have warned the officials and contractors for not providing work to job card holders of the district.
The Maoists have alleged that junior engineers, GRS, NGOs, and contractors of Ambadala are having an unholy nexus and deprive the job card holders of employment opportunities through MGNERGS.
The Maoists alleged that several lakh rupees were being spent in Muniguda block in construction activity, but the officials and contractors are using machinery to complete work rather than providing the migrant workers to do the job and get paid for their service.
The Ultras have warned the officials and contractors to stop work with the help of machines and said if they will not abide by their instructions then machines will be burnt and the contractors will be taught a lesson.
Ambadala police station in-charge Bandana Nayak has visited the spot and seized the Maoist posters from the spot.
The police have stepped up operations after the encounter of four Maoists at Tumudibandha forest who belonged to Baghuna division. The Kalahandi-Kandhamal operation is going on, police said.
IMUMBAI: Telugu poet and founder of Revolutionary Writers’ Association, Varavara Rao’s (79) health condition has turned critical. Prison officials at Taloja jail in Mumbai informed his wife P. Hemalata Rao over a phone call about his health condition.
He is being treated at a hospital, prison officials informed.
Varavara Rao has been suffering from health issues for some time. Earlier, on May 30, after Rao fell unconscious in Taloja jail, he was admitted at JJ Hospital in Mumbai.
Rao was arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
A few days ago, a court dismissed a petition filed by his lawyers. As the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has objected to granting bail to Varavara Rao as he is a key accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, the court rejected the petition.
Varavara Rao, who was arrested in November 2018 on charges of conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was first shifted to the Yerawada Central Prison in Pune. In February 2019, he was shifted from Yerawada prison to Taloja Prison in Mumbai.
Recently, the Maharashtra government has confirmed that one person has died of COVID-19 in Taloja Prison.
Following which, Varavara Rao’s daughters have recently written letters to the Maharashtra government, the Governor and the Chief Justice of the High Court demanding the release of their elderly father from prison in view of COVID-19 spread.
On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the victory of the Dalits in the war against the upper caste Peshwas at Bhima Koregaon, Maharashtra, Hindutva forces spread violence and on 28 September 2018 Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha were arrested from Delhi, Pune, Faridabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad on multiple charges. Later Shoma Sen, Anand Teltumbde, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson and many other social workers, lawyers, poets and professors were arrested. They were charged under various unconstitutional laws like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), sedition and so on.
The list also includes 90 percent physically challenged Professor G N Saibaba, who is being held in the small ‘Anda Cell’ of the Nagpur Jail. There is no infrastructure to keep a physically challenged person like him. As a result, his physical condition is deteriorating day by day. On the other hand, the veteran Maoist theoretical leader Kobad Ghandy, despite suffering from a deadly disease like cancer, is being conspired to block his release from jail with new false charges.
On 28 May, poet Varavara Rao fell unconscious in jail. He was admitted to J J Hospital in Mumbai. Although his condition was just slightly stable, he was brought back to jail on 1 June. Varavara Rao’s family was not allowed to visit the hospital. They didn’t even get a chance to talk to the poet on the phone. In this situation, Varavara Rao’s wife applied for bail in the NIA court but that application was rejected. Although article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to life even if a citizen is imprisoned. on June 26, the NIA court again rejected the bail plea of Varavara Rao regarding illness.
We have seen that in India different national and local parties make different promises during elections, but there is little difference between them in terms of anti-people policies and anti-people laws like UAPA, sedition etc. Almost all parties have been using these laws to suppress dissent. However, in spite of this repressive policy of the state, the protests and movements of workers, peasants, students and social workers in different parts of India have not stopped. And this is where the ruling class fears the octogenarian Varavara Rao, or the physically challenged Professor Saibaba. That is why they have to be kept in jail even during the coronavirus crisis.
In contrast, at least 100 leading intellectuals in the world, such as Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Homi K Bhabha, Partha Chatterjee and Gerald Horne have written letters to the President and Chief Justice of India demanding the release of Varavara Rao. 375 prominent personalities of India including Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi, Shankha Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Kaushik Sen have written an open letter to the Central Government of India.
Meanwhile, recently 14 Indian MPs wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray requesting that the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao be transferred from Taloja Jail in to a hospital. Several inmates have already died of coronavirus in that jail. Officially, the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases in India is about half a million, more than 16,000 died. Almost every day new records of infections and deaths are being set.
The Indian government is playing tricks on the life of Varavara Rao and others, who were detained fearing mass movement. The Government of India will be held responsible if any of them are infected with the virus during their detention on coronavirus crisis. We once again demand the Government of India to immediately release the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao and other social workers. It is our moral duty today to be vocal in this demand.
1. Badruddin Umar; President, Jatiya Mukti Council
2. Prof. Serajul Islam Choudhury; Convenor, Socialist Intellectual Association
3. Prof. Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq; President, Swadwsh Cinta Songho
4. Prof. Anu Muhammad; Member-secretary, National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports
5. Prof. Akmal Hossain; General secretary, National Committee Against Fascism and Imperialism
6. Hasan Fakri; Poet and Writer
7. Prof. Nehal Karim; Former Chairman, Faculty of Social Sciences, Dhaka University
8. Jafor Hossain; President, New Democratic People’s Forum
9. Masud Khan; President, Jatiya Ganotantrik Ganomancha
10. Tipu Biswas; Co-ordinator, Jatiyo Ganofront
11. Faiezul Hakim; General Secretary, Jatiya Mukti Council
12. Altaf Parvez; Writer and Researcher on South Asia
13. Maha Mirza; Writer and Researcher
14. B D Rahmatullah; Energy Expert and Academic, UAP
15. Haider Anwar Khan Juno; Political Figure and Cultural Organiser
16. Salim Reza Newton; Professor, Rajshahi University
17. Gazi Tanjia; Fiction Writer and Columnist
18. Zakir Talukdar; Fiction Writer
19. Souvik Reza; Professor, Rajshahi University
20. Tanzimuddin Khan; Professor, Dhaka University
21. Sayema Khatun; Associate Professor, Jahangirnagar University
22. Maidul Islam; Associate Professor, Chottogram University
23. Anup Sadi; Poet, Writer
24. Boktiar Ahmed; Professor , Rajshahi University
25. Saeed Ferdous; Professor, Jahangirnagar University
26. Syed Abul Kalam; Member, Socialist Intellectual Association
27. Golam Sarwer; Professor, Rajshahi University
28. Samina Luthfa; Associate Professor, Dhaka University
29. Moshahida Sultana; Associate Professor, Dhaka University
30. Dr. Harun Ur Rashid; Professor, Dhaka Community Medical College
31. Taniah Mahmuda Tinni; Lecturer, Premier University
32. Prof. M. Nrunnobi
33. Advocate Jahed Karim
34. Afjalul Basar; Member-secretery, Socialist Intellectual Association
35. Badol Shah Alom, Journalist
36. Shaherin Arafat, Journalist, Activist
37. Hena Sultana, Poet
38. Bijan Sammanit, Activist
39. Avijit Roy, Poet
40. Rois Mukul, Poet
41. Asma Begum, Poet
42. Arifujjaman Tuhin, Journalist
43. Arup Rahi, Vocal, Lila Band
44. Syed Faiz Ahmed, Journalist
45. Eliash Uddin Palash; Editor, Shampratik Deshkal
46. Mofizur Rahman Laltu; Executive Editor, Noya Duniya
47. Dr. Tanmoy Sanyal, Editor, Postcard
48. Ranjan Kumar Dey, Editor, bangladarpan.com
49. Saeed Bilas, Poet
50. Zaki Sumon, Former Co-Convenor, Revolutionary Student-Youth Movement
51. Jahid Jogot, Writer
52. Wabaidullah Sony, Journalist
53. Nayeem Sinha, Journalist
54. Masud Rana, Journalist
55. Ismail Sarder, Former Banker
56. Purobi Sammanit, Writer
57. Imam Gazzali, Journalist
58. Kabir Sohel, Poet
59. Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury; Editor & Publisher, Shuddhashar
60. Mitrosh Totrach, Poet
61. Mustafizur Rahman Sohag, Member, Postcard
62. Biplab Bhattacharjee; Convenor, Revolutionary Workers Movement
63. Atif Anik; President, Revolutionary Student-Youth Movement
64. Molla Harun, Politician
65. Hasibur Rahman; President, Bangladesh Lekhok Shibir
66. Dr. Kazi Iqbal; General Secretary, Bangladesh Lekhok Shibir
67. Iqbal Kabir; President, Biplobi Chatro Moitri
68. Samiul Alam; Secretary, Jatiya Mukti Council, Chottogram
69. Subinoy Mustafi; Representative, Araj Network
70. Sumaiya Binte Salim, Rastrochinta
71. Jabir Ahmed Jubel, Member, Revolutionary Student Unity
72. Rafsan Ahmed, Independent Researcher and Culteral Activist
73. Abu Naser Anik, General Secretary, Jatiyo Jubo Porisod
74. Ikramul Haq Khan, Translator
75. Shamim Imam, Convener, National Democratic Workers Federation
76. Mujibur Rahman; Genaral Secretary, Bangladesh Krishok O Grameen Sromik Federation
77. Albart Soren; President, Jatisotwa Mukti Songram Porishod
78. Dr. Abdul Hakim; General Secretary, Bangladesher Samyobadi Dol
79. Parvej Lelin; President, Bangladesh Student Federation
80. Dilip Roy; General Secretary, Revolutionary Student Unity
81. Monjurul Haque; Convenor, Stalin Society Bangladesh
82. Rakib Uddin; Convenor, New Democratic People’s Forum, Chottogram
83. Nasima Najnin; Organizer, Revolutionary Women Salvation
84. Sorot Kumar Das, Former Co-president, Revolutionary Student Unity, RU
85. Amirun Nujhat Monisha; Organising Secretary, Biborton Sanskritik Kendro
86. Provat Kumar Das, Postcard
87. Emdad Hossain, Coordinator, Postcard
88. Aniruddho Goswami, Campus Coordinator, Postcard
89. Walid Bari, Member, National Convenor Committee, Revolutionary Workers Movement
90. Bithi Ghosh, Cultural Activist
91. Ahmed Jafor; Organiser, New Democratic People’s Forum, Immigrant Branch Europe
92. Anupam Shaikat Shanto, Activist, Writer, Researcher
93. Sourav Halder, Student
94. Arunav Biley, Activist
95. Tushar Sikder, Student
96. Shamim Ahmed, Member, Postcard
97. Rahul Roy
98. Dhrubo Borua
99. Shoeb Abdullah, Political Activist, Independent Researcher
100. Abdur Rob, Political Activist
101. Alvi, Student
102. Nazmus Sakib, Activist
103. Faizar Muhammad Shaolin
104. Ismael Haque, Revolutionary Student-Youth Movement
105. Munware Alam Nirjhor, Journalist, Activist
106. Abdul Momin, Student, Political Activist
107. Shipra Nabami Sandhya
108. Hazrat Ali, Student
109. Samiul Ehsan Shafin, Student
110. Rezina Ahmed Swarna, Student
111. Mahmudul Hussain Ishadi, Student
112. Rafiqul Amin, Activist
113. Avimanyu Mohanto, Activist
114. Joyonta Kumar Shawon, Activist
115. Shahidul Islam, Politics Activist
116. Hasan Siddique, Teacher
117. Rupok Kumar Das, Student
118. Nri Raha Adrija, Student
119. Kuasha Chowdhury
120. Apu Rozario
121. Animesh Roy
122. Md. Atik Shahriar
123. Sheikh Shamim
124. Moshiur Rahman, Worker
126. Shahriar Abedin
127. Hasan Jamil, Revolutionary Student-Youth Movement
128. Tanvir Akand, Student
129. Shahajahan Sarker, Columnist and Writer
130. P K Rajesh
131. Abrar Ifaj, Student, DU
132. Rajat Huda, Poet, Activist
133. Shahadat Sadhu
134. Murshedul Ajadi
135. Mishkat Mohiuddin, Student
136. Kayes Mahmud, Political Activist
137. Sumaya Rahman, Student
138. Nahid Islam, Political Activist
139. Marzia Prova, Activist
140. Dolon Prova, Poet
141. Nibir Kanti Roy
142. Riyad Mahmud, Member, Lampost
143. Refat Bin Salam Rupom, Journalist
144. G H Habib; Associate Professor, Chittagong University
145. Mina Tasmin, Activist
July 1, 2020
Open Letter from PUDR
25 June 2020
Subject: Urgent action needed towards inhuman conditions in Maharashtra jails
As we mark the 45th anniversary of the day when emergency was imposed in the country and thousands of political dissenters were locked up in the prisons, we wish to bring to your notice the deplorable and abysmal condition of jails and quarantine facilities in Maharashtra.
The conditions were recently flagged by Gautam Navlakha, a political prisoner accused under the infamous Bhima Koregaon case. Of those accused in this case, nine including Gautam Navlakha and Varvara Rao have been lodged in Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai and two women political prisoners have been lodged at Byculla jail.
On 20 June 2020, Gautam Navlakha conveyed telephonically to his partner about his incarceration experience at a quarantine facility in Mumbai. He informed that there were approximately 350 inmates housed in the Namdar Gopal Krishna Gokhale High School in Khargar (Raigad District) quarantine facility.
While majority of the inmates had been crammed into six classrooms, people had also been sleeping in the corridors and passages. What is worse is that for 350 persons, there were only 3 toilets, 7 urinals and one bathing facility without either a bucket or mug. The inmates also had no access to fresh air, as they were mostly locked in, with no place demarcated for them to walk or engage in physical exercise. This stands in contravention to the Maharashtra Jail Manual which provides for atleast one toilet seat for every six prisoners and thorough ventilation among other things.
The shocking state of affairs reflects how the quarantine facility is itself turning into a breeding ground for the spread of the virus amongst prisoners, which is exactly what the facility was supposed to be a safeguard against, and it defeats the objective of decongestion of prisons. Consequently, the decision of the government to declare 36 locations as temporary prisons or quarantine centres under section 7 of the Prisons Act, 1894, instead of releasing inmates is worrying.
The constitutional mandate of the prison authorities to ensure the safe custody of all prisoners is being blatantly violated. Additionally, with rules and notifications about these centres not being available in the public domain, and with no regular communication facilities, these temporary jails have become a blackhole where undertrials are being detained indefinitely.
It also became known that persons at this facility at Raigad are being arbitrarily kept beyond the 14-day quarantine period, since Taloja Central jail is unable to accommodate new prisoners. The jail has reportedly already exceeded its capacity by 1,000 prisoners. Eight overcrowded prisons in the State have had to be “locked down”.
This does not even remotely indicate the Maharashtra High Powered Committee’s resolve to reduce the jail population by atleast two-thirds in order to implement social distancing norms. Three of the accused under the Bhima Koregaon case – Surendra Gadling, Arun Fereirra and Vernon Gonsalves have been struggling to find space just to keep a copy of their 5000-page chargesheet. The Maharashtra Prison Manual, even ordinarily mandatesatleast 3.71 square metres of space for each prisoner in every sleeping barrack.
It has now been reported that 158 persons have been found positive in Arthur road jail itself. It leaves little doubt that social distancing guidelines are not being taken seriously and lives of thousands of prisoners in custody are being put at risk.
As per the response filed by the Additional Director General of Police and the Inspector General of Prisons and Correctional Services Maharashtra in the matter PUCL v State of Maharashtra (PIL No. 5/2020) being heard by the High Court of Bombay, four inmates have died in Taloja, Dhule and Yerwada prisons after contracting Covid-19. One of the two inmates from Taloja who died was diabetic. 277 prisoners in this jail have been reported to be suffering from serious illnesses, the highest among all jails.
Persons suffering from co-morbidities are known to be more vulnerable against Covid-19. Yet an interim bail plea of 81-year old Varvara Rao lodged at Taloja, who is suffering from multiple ailments was rejected in March end. His present bail plea before the NIA court has been delayed on account of the late submission of medical report by jail authorities. Similarly, Sudha Bhardwaj’s interim bail plea citing her vulnerability on account of diabetes and heart condition along with a history of pulmonary tuberculosis was also rejected end of May.
The jail authorities, who first prevented Sudha’s daughter from speaking to her for more than a month, opposed her bail by stating that her condition was “stable”. In the case of 67-year old Gautam Navlakha, though his lawyer was informed by jail authorities that he has been tested for Covid-19 and reported negative, but he later revealed to his family that he was never even tested! It is beyond comprehension why undertrial prisoners, who have been incarcerated solely for their inconvenient political views, are being punished with a virtual death sentence.
While hearing the petition by PUCL and others on 16 June, the Bombay High Court after looking at the report submitted by the Inspector General Prisons had remarked on the sorry state of affairs in jails in Maharashtra. The conditions being reported are a source of grave and urgent concern, and pose an imminent threat – of disease and death – to the undertrials under State custody.
To this end, we request you to kindly ensure that the following measures be
1. The request for interim bail or emergency parole may not be opposed for undertrials or convicts who are above 60 years of age and medically vulnerable, irrespective of the offences they are booked under.
2. Social distancing norms be implemented strictly in accordance with World Health Organisations (WHO) guidelines to avoid further spread of disease inside prisons and all quarantine facilities.
3. Regular and effective contact – by phone and videoconferencing until physical meetings commence – be ensured between inmates and their families and lawyers.
1. Alternative Law Forum, Bengaluru
2. Amnesty International, India
3. Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab
4. Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal
5. Civil Liberties Committee, Andhra Pradesh
6. Civil Liberties Committee, Telangana
7. Human Rights Defenders Alert, India
8. Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Jammu and Kashmir
9. National Alliance for People’s Movement, India
10. People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi
11. Prisons Forum, Karnataka
12. Rihai Manch, Uttar Pradesh
13. South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, Delhi
14. Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, India