The National Investigation Agency on Wednesday raided the homes of more than 25 activists and writers in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties said on Thursday.
PUCL said that the investigation agency’s raids continued till the early hours of Thursday. It added that the NIA seized books, laptops and phones belonging to the activists.
The activists have been accused of having links with Maoists, according to the Hindustan Times.
The investigating agency raided the homes of Chilika Chandrashekhar, the general secretary of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, VS Krishna from the Human Rights Forum as well as High Court advocate V Raghunath.
The case in connection with which the raids were conducted was originally registered by the Andhra Pradesh police in November last year, according to the Hindustan Times. It was filed after the arrest of a person named Pangi Naganna, who was accused of working as a courier for Maoists.
The police alleged that Naganna passed on information about their movement to Maoists. “He was involved in instigating villagers to stop the forces from combing operations, obstruct police from entering villages, revolt against police parties and hold rallies against the government,” the police alleged.
Naganna, during interrogation, told the police that he facilitated meetings between civil society organisations and Maoists, according to the newspaper.
The police named VS Krishna in the case based on Naganna’s confession. They accused him of influencing the Vakapalli rape complainants to depose falsely against police officers. In August 2007, personnel of Andhra Pradesh’s anti-Naxal force, the Greyhounds, had allegedly raped 11 women belonging to the Kondh tribe in Vakapalli, an Adivasi hamlet in Visakhapatnam.
The National Investigation Agency took over the case involving Naganna and filed a first information report earlier this month, The News Minute reported. It charged at least 64 people, mostly activists, under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for allegedly helping Maoists, according to the Hindustan Times.
An unidentified NIA official told the newspaper that the raids were conducted to prove the activists’ alleged involvement in a conspiracy.
PUCL said that the raids were an effort to silence the activists who “stood up against injustice” and questioned the government. “All these people were challenging anti democratic laws, illegal arrests and other undemocratic practices of the Indian State and their respective Governments of AP and Telangana, along with challenging caste and patriarchal violence against women, the hegemonic attacks by the Hindutva forces against Muslims, destruction in the name of development, protecting the land and forest rights of the people etc,” the PUCL said.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Forum said the accusations against VS Krishna and members of other rights, literary, and Dalit organisations was “clearly an exercise in intimidation to stifle lawful dissent and protest”. The forum demanded that the charges against the activists be dropped immediately.