COIMBATORE: Amnesty International India has called for the release of two youths who were arrested and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly trespassing into the Q Branch office in Coimbatore on June 13.
The human rights advocacy group has issued an issued an “urgent action” plea in the case. In an “urgent action” plea, its members across the world are urged to call or write to the authorities concerned and mount pressure on them for the release of political prisoners, dissidents and victims of unlawful arrests or unjust laws.
The two youths, Masanamuthu and Nagamanickam of Vellalore, both 21 years old, were arrested for allegedly verbally abusing and threatening police personnel and for taking photographs of the office with their mobile phones.
In a press release, Amnesty International India said that the two have been “held under India’s principal anti-terror legislation, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), for allegedly being members of an unlawful organisation, which the two men deny. According to the Commissioner of Police, the only evidence for this was the fact that they had shouted “pro-Maoist” slogans inside the police station. If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.”
"Human rights activists in Tamil Nadu have said that the State police are increasingly using the UAPA as a tool to harass and intimidate people who express dissenting views. Parts of the UAPA do not meet international human rights standards. The law allows detention without charge for up to 180 days, which is far beyond international standards," the release further states.
Speaking to Express, Abhirr V P, a senior campaigner, Amnesty International India, said that amendments made to the UAPA do not provide enough pre-trial safeguards against“torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees” and in certain circumstances denies the accused persons the opportunity to prove their innocence.
Previously, Amnesty had issued an “urgent action” plea after the arrest of Prof G N Saibaba of Delhi University, who was allegedly denied basic freedoms when he was in police custody. Pressure from the group had resulted in some rights being restored to him, said an Amnesty activist.
Missing Youth Still Alive, Cops Claim
The Coimbatore district police, who had taken custody of Maoist C Kannan (46) have reasons to believe that a 23-year-old youth, who had gone missing and is suspected to have joined the Maoist movement, is still alive, and could be undergoing arms training in the forests of Tamil Nadu, Kerala or Karnataka, informed sources said. Kannan is alleged to have revealed details of the missing youth, Santhosh Kumar (23) from Angalakurichi near Valparai, during his interrogation while in police custody.
Kannan, along with four others, was arrested by Q Branch police near Karumathampatty on May 3. Police had suspected that Santhosh Kumar had died from an illness. However, Kannan reportedly told police that Santhosh Kumar was still alive, though the exact location of his whereabouts remain unknown.
Police sources said that details of each comrade within the Maoist fold, about when he joined the movement, and his subsequent desertion (or death) is recorded on a website run by the rebels.
However, Santhosh Kumar’s death has still not been announced, which has given police grounds to suspect that he is still alive and active in the Maoist movement.
Police are also looking for three other suspects, who are believed to have helped Santhosh join the Maoist movement.
However, contradicting the police’s claims, Kannan, who was produced before the Principal District Judge (in-charge), R Sakthivel, said that he had not revealed any names of other Maoist sympathisers nor places, during interrogation.
He was then taken back to the Coimbatore Central Prison and will be under judicial custody till July 10. Kannan has alleged that police are trying to implicate him in cases to which he has no connection.