From October 4 to February 26 this year, Telangana Police has booked 99 persons including students, academicians, trade union activists, civil rights activists and senior lawyers under draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and other sections in nine connected cases registered in several police stations. The organisations in which the accused are members have been arguing that the cases booked are baseless and fabricated only to silence the dissent in the state.
While 15 persons among the accused have been arrested, 12 of them have been granted conditional bail by courts in the last two months as the state police failed to file chargesheets in the stipulated time frame.
The 99 persons booked are associated with 18 organisations including Telangana Praja Front (TPF), Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika (TVV), Chaitanya Mahila Sangam (CMS) and Civil Liberties Committee (CLC) among others.
Notably, all the accused persons have been named several times in the first information reports (FIRs) in the cases registered at police stations such as Gadwal, Mulugu, Charla, Venkatapuram, L B Nagar, Nallakunta and Lakshmidevi Palli.
These are conspiracy cases targeted at selected organisations only to silence the dissent against anti-people policies, says Ravichandar, state president of TPF. According to him, the police have followed a similar modus operandi during the arrests and used similar language in the FIRs.
Besides UAPA, the police booked them under several charges including 120B of Indian Penal Code, Sections 8 (1), 8 (2) of Telangana Public Security Act, 1992.
In October last year, Telangana High Court had termed the arrests of Maddileti and Krishna (two of the accused in these cases) as unlawful and stated that the police didn’t adhere to the rules under CrPC section 41b during the arrest, while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by their family members.
According to the counsel of the accused people, the police had conducted unwarranted house searches and seized unbanned books while arresting them. They are urging the courts to quash all the cases arguing that the accused are selectively being falsely framed by the state authorities as having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
“Because of the multiple cases filed against each accused, those who have been released under conditional bail are distressed amid the pandemic as they have to visit several police stations in different parts of the state every week to give their signatures,” said Ravichandar.
In March this year, the National Investigative Agency (NIA) registered a Suo Moto case based on one of these cases filed at Nallakunta police station in Hyderabad and is currently probing it. Among the accused in the case are B Maddileti, President of TVV, M Sandeep, member of TVV, Nallamasu Krishna, Vice President of TPF and Y Narayana of CPI (Maoist).
The series of cases began with the arrest of Nagaraju, a member of TVV, who had been organising protests on alleged corruption activities by the lawmakers in newly formed Gadwal district.