Sep 7, 2013

Letter to HM : Against the Arbitrary Arrests and frame up of Hem Mishra and Prashant Rahi


Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde

Home Minister,

North Block

New Delhi


Sub: Against the Arbitrary Arrests and frame up of Hem Mishra and Prashant Rahi

Sometime between the 20th and the 23rd of August, Hem Mishra, who was till very recently a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and is a member of Democratic Students’ Union (DSU) and Revolutionary Cultural Front (RCF) was illegally arrested and detained by the Maharashtra State Police. At the beginning, the police did not produce him within 24 hours of his arrest. Later after being pressurised by media persons they acknowledged that he has been arrested as a ‘prominent Naxal Courier’. This is a ludicrous claim. Hem is a known students and cultural activist in Uttarakhand and Delhi who has been working for the people by raising social issues since his early days in student activism.

He is a physically disabled person.  Being a sensitive activist and having heard a lot about the Lok Biradari Hospital run by Dr. Prakash Amte, where it is said more than 60000 people visit a year, Hem wished to visit this place in Bhamaragrh. Possibly he was also keen to know if there is any treatment for his persistent pain in the left hand where he had undergone two major surgeries from Vellore in Tamil Nadu. At some point in his journey, he was illegally detained on the 20th August 2013 and till his arrest was declared on the 24th August 2013 he was tortured physically and mentally by the police. He was remanded to police custody for ten days during which time he was not allowed access to a lawyer which is a gross violation of his constitutional rights. It was also reported in the media that two adivasi youths, by the name of Mahesh Tirkey and Pandu Narote were simultaneously picked up by police and were also shown as ‘Naxal Couriers’ along with Hem.

The police are not even disclosing under what charges exactly he has been booked. The only thing that the police have claimed so far is a recovery of an ‘encrypted microchip’ which they have clearly implanted on him. Even on such spurious and baseless grounds he continues to remain incarcerated. Although the police has not officially made it clear what are the charges they have slapped on him, they have informed the local media that a range of cases from several sections under UAPA, sedition, extortion, etc. will be placed on him.

Hem is a well-known student leader and cultural activist. By branding him a ‘courier’ for Naxals, the police and the media intend to spread fears among young activists, threaten people’s leaders, and silence all voices of dissent. This illegal arrest of Hem, denying information to his family and finally producing him before a magistrate three days later and denying him lawyer even within police remand, clearly shows the impunity enjoyed by the Maharashtra state police to spread fear of custodial intimidation and possible torture of a known activist.

On the 2nd September, a freelance journalist and people’s activist in Uttarakhand, Prashant Rahi, was picked up by the police somewhere in Chhattisgarh  and then shown as arrested in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. Prashant Rahi was on his way to visit political prisoners in the various prisons of Chhattisgarh. Media sources and independent civil rights activists confirm that Prashant Rahi was arrested from near by the Raipur Court, Chhattisgarh. He was then produced the next day morning in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra in front of the local magistrate.

He has been remanded along with Hem Mishra to police custody for fourteen days. This is a pre-meditated move from the side of the investigating agencies to incriminate both Hem Mishra and Prashant Rahi in a case together. Prashant Rahi a people’s activist was arrested and charged under 121, 121A, 124A, 153B, 120B IPC and section 20 UAPA and was under trial at the Session Court of Rudrapur, Uttarakhand. After languishing in the prison for 3 years and 8 months, he was released on bail on August 21, 2011. Since
then he managed to stay in Rudrapur as his trial was continuing there and  was supposed to conclude this month end. It goes without saying that the  arrest and possible frame-up of Prashant can also prejudice the trial that  is about to conclude.

The arrests of Hem and Prashant are not isolated cases. The arbitrary and illegal arrests of activists like Jayeeta Das in West Bengal, the arrest of cultural activist Utpal Bashke from Ranchi, the hounding and attack of Kabir Kala Manch activists by the lumpen goons of ABVP, the brutal killing of RDF Vice President Ganti Prasadam in Nellore in July, and the banning of RDF in Andhra Pradesh are all part of the undeclared war on people codenamed Operation Green Hunt taking on an urban avatar where activists, students and intellectuals are targeted for voicing the genuine demands of the people.

RDF strongly and unequivocally condemns these arrests and detention of people’s activists on fabricated charges and protests this form of repression by the Maharashtra state police and the Indian state. RDF demands the immediate and unconditional release of Hem Mishra, Prashant Rahi and the two other adivasi youths.



Press release

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