Hyderabad: Several rights organisations, such as Civil Liberties Committee and Telangana Vidyavanthula Vedika (TVV) have demanded the immediate release of Gurijala Ravinder Rao, former state president of TVV, for alleged links with Maoist leaders. Rao was arrested by Mancherial Police on Sunday for allegedly giving shelter to central committee member of Communist Party of India (Maoist) Varanasi Subrahmanyam and his wife, it has been reported.
Reportedly, Subrahmanyam was arrested by Andhra Pradesh Police on Monday and taken to Vijayawada Police Station. Meanwhile, Mancherial district court sent Rao in judicial custody.
At a press conference held at Ramakrishnapur Police Station, Ramagundam Commissioner of Police Satyanarayana claimed Rao was associated with ‘Urban Maoisim’ activities, adding that he has been booked under Sections 120, 120 B of the Indian Penal Code and under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The police chief said that Rao was the first secretary of ‘SIKASA’ (Singareni Boggugani Karmika Sangham) and alleged that SIKASA was associated with Maoists and that Subrahmanyam was one of the members.
Demanding Rao’s immediate release, TVV state president Ambati Nagaiah said his arrest was ‘illegal’.
“Rao led TVV from the forefront during the Telangana statehood movement. He also led several democratic struggles after the formation of Telangana. His arrest appears to be an attempt to stifle and threaten democratic voices in the state,” said Nagaiah.
Several cases are pending against Subrahmanyam, who was in Visakhapatnam jail for several years and was released on bail in 2019.
According to the police, Rao gave shelter to Subrahmanyam and his wife for 20 days at his hotel in Mancherial town.
“How can giving shelter to someone attract UAPA?”said Nagaiah, adding that TVV has teachers, lawyers, lecturers and workers as its members and has been raising people’s issues. “Several members associated with TVV during the statehood movement are working directly with the state government,” he pointed out.
“For both the BJP-led Central government and Telangana Rashtra Samithi-led State government, UAPA has become a weapon to threaten and arrest activists who are questioning the fallacies of the government,” said Professor G Laxman of Civil Liberties Committee (CLC).
“For the last two years, about 90 activists, teachers, students and women rights activists have been arrested under the draconian UAPA Act. So far, 23 activists could come out on bail as the police have been failing to produce any substantiate evidence against such activists,” he added.
In a statement, CLC alleged that Rao’s arrest was made on false premises.
“During the press conference, the police referred to Rao as the honorary president of TVV but there is no such post in the organisation. Rao was TVV president several years ago and he is now only a member of the organisation. The police allegations appear to be like a conspiracy,” Nagaiah told NewsClick.
Backward Caste Sanshkema Sangham and Golla Kurma Hakkula Sangham have also condemned Rao’s arrest and demanded his release.
“The State is on a spree of targeting people who are raising the issues of the poor. From teachers to workers, women leaders to students are being targeted,” said Laxman. He said: “CM K Chandrashekar Rao, who was part of the statehood movement, must stop such methods of coercive governance.”