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Civil Rights Organisations Say Delhi Police is Targeting Them

New Delhi:The civil rights organisations, which were named by the Delhi Police in its chargesheet against top Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy, today claimed that they were being targeted for protesting against "undemocratic practices" and threatened to move court. Asking the Delhi Police to withdraw the names from the charge sheet running into over 800 pages, right activists argued that no evidence has been provided whatsoever to substantiate the allegations.

People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), People's Union of Democratic Rights (PUDR), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) are among the organisations which were mentioned in the charge sheet accusing them of helping Maoists.

"We will take the matter to the court unless the Delhi police withdraws the name of the PUCL from the charge sheet. What is the evidence? Just because you are fighting for human rights does not mean that you can be targeted," retired justice Rajindar Sachar told reporters here.

Arundhati Roy, writer and activist, said, "An attempt is being made to tame the activists who openly protested 'Operation Green Hunt'. It's a logical step for the government to expand the theatre of war."

"In a democracy one should have the freedom to express views. But the government is attempting to quell all dissident voices by increasingly targeting human right activists," noted supreme court lawyer Prasant Bhushan said.

The charge sheet against Ghandy, a Politburo member of the banned CPI (Maoist) arrested in September last year from Delhi, was filed on February 19.

Bhushan referred to yesterday's Supreme Court decision when the apex court slammed Andhra Pradesh government for its claim that elite anti-Naxalite police force Greyhounds was deployed in Osmania University campus as intelligence inputs had revealed some of the students were naxal sympathisers.

"The apex court had said that merely being a sympathiser does not make one a criminal. Are people not entitled to speak their views," he asked. When asked whether he was justifying the Maoists' actions, the noted lawyer said, "If you are going to deprive tribals lands, the only means of their livelihood, by forcefully evicting them, then some of them may take up arms with the Maoists."

The activists asked both the government and Maoists to observe a ceasefire and start a dialogue. "Both the government and the ultras have expressed willingness to engage in talks. Then why the delay and the blame game?," Sachar asked.

"The government should also ensure that all MOUs, if entered, for projects on areas inhibited by tribals should be frozen and no compulsory acquisition of tribal lands and habitats be undertaken. Tribals should not be displaced," he said. The right activists also asked the government to stop operations like 'Operation Green Hunt' and Salwa Judum.

(DNA India, February 27, 2010)