The police raj in Telangana under the government led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has numerous ‘dangerous’ faces, says civil society in the state. On December 6, the state police killed in an “encounter” the four accused in the gruesome rape and killing of a veterinary doctor. While this episode of extra-judicial killings has led to several sections of the society celebrating the police action, rights’ activists argue that the state is turning into an aggressive authoritarian regime.
On December 6, People even reached the “encounter” site in the premises of Hyderabad and celebrated the killings praising the police.
Sources told NewsClick that 65 people have been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the last two months alone. “Police have been harassing civil society activists on a daily basis warning them against joining people’s movements,” said Shilpa, state secretary of Chaitanya Mahila Sangam (CMS), a women's rights group based in the state for the last 25 years.
Also read: NHRC Takes Cognizance of Hyderabad Encounter, Orders Probe
“Recently, nine members of CMS were booked under UAPA and other sections of IPC, including me, without explaining any grounds but randomly framing links with CPI (Maoist) (Communist Party of India Maoist). This is being done with other people’s organisations too, making this the new normal in the state,” Shilpa told NewsClick. She explained that CMS has been working for the empowerment of women, especially those living in bastis (ghettos). “Our female activists houses are being raided in late hours without any warrant and their family members are being harassed,” she added.
NewsClick has earlier reported that between October 4 to October 15, state police have arrested five persons separately, including Nagaraju, Balaram and B Maddileti, all three associated with Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika (TVV); Nalamasa Krishna, vice president of Telangana Praja Front (TPF) and Dr. Jagan, Economics lecturer in Osmania University, member of Virasam (Viplava Rachaitala Sangam) and editor of Student March magazine. All of them have been booked under UAPA and Telangana Public Security Act.
All these arrests happened in a “kidnapping manner”, recollects Ravichandar, State President of Telangana Praja Front (TPF). “Since October 4, a day before Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) began their strike, the police crackdown on activists has begun. Perhaps, the CM wanted to threaten the civil society from supporting the workers by imposing draconian acts,” he told NewsClick.
On October 19, Cherla Police station in Bhadradri district booked 45 people under UAPA and other sections, without specifying any legitimate reasons, he stated, adding that, “Of them 33 persons are noted activists working for human rights, tribal rights, student movements and women's rights. While none of them have been taken into police custody yet, the government wants them to remain silent from joining people’s protests.”
Reportedly, on November 12, another 10 people were booked under UAPA. They include lecturers, poets and student leaders.
Also read: Telangana: What Is the Gadwal Conspiracy Behind ‘Unlawful’ Arrests
Earlier in October, Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar had declared 23 organisations as banned including Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika (TVV), TPF, CMS, Tudum Debba (organisation working for adivasi land rights), Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, Civil Liberties Committee, Kula Nirmula Porata Samithi (organisation working towards caste annihilation), among others claiming them to be frontal associations of banned CPI (Maoist) party. He threatened the people to not to take part in their activities. However, no official statement has been issued as such.
“The state government is apparently branding all civil society organisations as linked to Maoists only to suppress people’s movements. Such acts are unconstitutional and illegal as all these organisations have been leading their struggles in constitutional manner,” emphasised Ravichander, adding, “TPF has been participating and leading people's struggles for the last 10 years with the sole motive to achieve democratic Telangana.”