New Delhi,8th February, 10
PUCL strongly condemns the arrest of the erudite scholar and journalist Seema Azad, executive member of the Uttar Pradesh state PUCL and editor of Dastak magazine. It equally condemns the arrest of Vishwa Vijay, her husband a democratic rights activist and student activist Asha.
We are shocked that the UP state police is labeling Seema's Human Rights work done through the PUCL of enquiring and protesting against the fake encounter killing of Kamlesh Chaudhary in Sonebhadra or of raising her voice against the mining mafia in Allahabad and Koshambi districts, as that being naxalite in nature.
We believe that this is a vindictive action by the UP State police against PUCl members like Seema, as in the aftermath of the protests made by the PUCL against the Sonebhadra fake encounter, the Additional DG of UP Police, Mr. Brij Lal had reportedly said on 12th November '09 that action would be taken against PUCL members.
It is pertinent to note that Seema Azad with other members of PUCL had conducted a fact finding on the atrocities of workers of the mining areas of Allahabad and Koshambi and had released a report last month. The report had severely criticized the police who had resorted to brutal lathi charge in the said (Nanda ka Gaon) village in which several workers were injured. The local office of the workers was set on fire by the police and several false cases were registered against the leaders of the workers.
PUCL demands the immediate release of Seema and others who have been picked up by the UP police and also demands the dropping of the cases filed against them so that their civil liberties are completely restored. PUCL also demands the immediate intervention of the NHRC against this outrageous arrest.
PUCL is of the belief that increasingly space for democratic expression and dissent is declining. Any effort made by citizens and human rights defenders to demand justice or questioning police action whether in Uttar Pradesh or the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, West Bengal etc is responded to by filing of fabricated cases against them under several sections of IPC or specially created anti-democratic laws. PUCL regrets that the Central Government has also proved to be compliant to this tactic and is an active complicit in ensuring the silence and suppression of democratic voices.
PUCL which has been a pioneer in civil liberties will fight against this anti-democratic attitude of the States and Central Government to the hilt until the civil liberties are fully respected and restored in the country for all its citizens. We plan to stage a nationwide protest against the arrest of Seema Azad along with demanding her release on the 11th of February, 2010.
Prabhakar Sinha (President)
Pushkar Raj (General Secretary)
Ravi Kiran Jain (Vice President)
Kavita Srivastava (National Secretary)
Chittranjan Singh (National Secretary)
Mahipal Singh ( national Secretary)