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Archive for July, 2010

Killing Azad: Silencing the Voice of Revolution

Posted by Admin on July 24, 2010


Azad alias Rajkumar, PB Member of CPI(Maoist) Picked up from Nagpur and killed in a Fake encounter on 2.07.2010 near Jogapur in Adilabad district about 300 kilometers from Hyderabad

Dear Friends,

This is for your info. An edited version appeared in Economic and Political Weekly, Mumbai, as Letter to Editor.

Killing Azad: Silencing the Voice of Revolution

By

N Venugopal

In a deliberate attempt to suppress the most powerful and articulate voice of Indian revolutionary movement, the state has indulged in cold-blooded, brutal assassination of Cherukuri Rajkumar, popularly known as Azad, spokesperson of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), along with freelance journalist Hemchandra Pandey on July 2. Azad was supposed to meet a courier at Sitabardi in Nagpur, Maharashtra at 11 am on July 1, to go to Dandakaranya forest from there. The courier returned back to the forest after missing him at the appointed time and place. Thus Azad might have met Pandey before that and might have been picked up either before they reached the place or at the place before the courier reached there. Dead bodies of both of them were shown on a hillock in the forest between Jogapur and Sarkepalli villages in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, about 250 kms from Nagpur, with a story of an encounter that took place in the early hours of July 2. Since the “encounter” stories are very common and Azad is a very important functionary in the Maoist movement, this killing raises several questions that remain unanswered.

Andhra Pradesh is a state with about a dozen television news channels and one gets information flashes within minutes of happening. Around 9 in the morning on July 2 the channels started flashing that there was an “encounter” in which two Maoists were killed. Slowly the news developed to identify the dead bodies of two “top leaders” in the beginning and a “top leader” (“because there was one AK-47”) and his courier later. Within the next few hours it was speculated that the deceased were Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and Pulluri Prasada Rao alias Chandranna, secretary of North Telangana Special Zonal Committee. By afternoon Gudsa Usendi, spokesperson of Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee came online and told the channels that the second person might be Sahadev, an adivasi courier sent to fetch Azad, after an appointment in Nagpur. By the next day Usendi came again online and told that Sahadev returned back safely after not finding Azad at the rendezvous. Almost at the same time, friends of Hemchandra Pandey recognized the picture of his dead body that appeared in New Delhi edition of Telugu daily Eenadu and Pandey’s wife Babita announced that at a press conference in Delhi. Pandey was not identified for the first two days and passed off as a Maoist and once he was identified, police started denying that he was a journalist, implying that killing a Maoist cannot be an issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘My son sold veggies to cops, but they killed him’

Posted by Admin on July 20, 2010


BIJAPUR (Chhattisgarh): A 15-year-old boy who sold vegetables in Awapalli, a small town of Bastar, was killed by a CRPF patrol party late night on June 3 this year. "He was a member of the Naxal Sangam and was planting a bomb when he was killed,” says V P Chauhan, the officer in charge of Awapalli police station.

But two facts make closure difficult for Unga Ooyam, the boy’s father. One, the policemen who killed his son, Lalu, knew him well. "Wo mere bete se hi to nimbu khareedte thhey (they used to buy lemons from my son). Worse, once they killed him, they called Lalu a Naxal. My son was a devout follower of the Shivananda Ashram at Gumargunda. How can a spiritual boy be a violent Naxal?”

Bastar is witnessing both a violent conflict between Maoists and security forces, and a parallel clash between human rights groups and the state. Human rights activists have accused the security forces of killing innocent people in the conflict. The police, in turn, allege the activists are running a campaign on behalf of Maoists to besmirch their reputation.

But Lalu’s case is free of this politics. It was not an activist, but many of town’s residents who walked up to this correspondent in the muddied rain swept market of Awapalli, sharing their torment over Lalu’s killing, vouching for his innocence.

Ahead on the street, at the camp that houses both the police station and the C company of CRPF’s 168 Battalion, records state that the boy killed in the CRPF operation on June 3, 2010, was a Naxal Sangam member. The sequence leading to his killing is detailed: A bus carrying supplies for a CRPF camp was intercepted and looted by Maoists near the village of Murdunda. A party headed by CRPF inspector Kalyan Singh went out to comb the area at night. Maoists fired at it. As the CRPF returned fire, the policemen saw a figure running away. They shot at it. Once the firing ended, the party recovered the body of the boy and an IED weighing 10 kgs, says Chauhan, police station in charge.

Unga says his son was sleeping in Murdunda village that night, as a stopover on way to their native village Tekmetla. Lalu wanted to relieve himself and asked his cousin to accompany him to the fields, but when his cousin refused, he stepped out alone.

"Next morning, as the townspeople saw his corpse being carried into the police station, they alerted me. I walked in and saw it was indeed my son lying dead. The police said, `Aapka beta Naxali mutbhed mein maraa gaaya (your son was killed in a Naxal encounter)’.” It came as a shock to Unga when he found out the police had labelled Lalu a Maoist.

"If this is indeed true, it reflects the complete demoralisation and loss of integrity of the police in Chhattisgarh,” says Ajai Sahni, executive director, Institute of Conflict Management.

"It’s likely the boy was a Sangam member. Why else would he be found at the site with explosives?” said Avinash Mohanty, SP of Bijapur. "But the case is still under investigation.” Privately, CRPF officers concede they are operating under extreme stress in Bastar, and "mistakes” could take place.

But security experts say it is wiser for the counter-insurgency forces to own up to accidental civilian killings as "regrettable deaths”, since a move to conceal or distort the truth further alienates the people. Toi

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AP: Two killed in police firing in Srikakulam district

Posted by Admin on July 17, 2010


2010071556330101.jpgSrinivasa Rao, Thursday, Jul 15, 2010

Sompeta on the boil; protestors launch agitation against proposed power project
Photo: basheer

BITTER BATTLE: Women wailing over an injured relative at Sompeta in Srikakulam district on Wednesday. —

SOMPETA (Srikakulam dt): Two persons were killed and dozens injured when police opened fire and resorted to lathicharge to quell angry agitators protesting the establishment of a 2,640 MW thermal power project here on Wednesday.

The two agitators killed in the police firing at Baruva near here were identified as G. Krishnamurthy of Lakkavaram village and Bandi Joga Rao of Palasapuram. Unconfirmed reports said two more, K. Venugopala Rao and E. Mohan Rao, also fell prey to police bullets.

Four other protesters who sustained bullet injuries — Bhanu Kumar, P. Lakshminarayana Rao, D. Gavarayya and P. Viswanatham — were admitted to Srikakulam Government Hospital. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chhattisgarh DGP not listening: CRPF Special Director-General Vijay Raman

Posted by Admin on July 17, 2010


Chhattisgarh DGP not listening –
3456813473_VijayRaman3_2.jpg Photo: Sanjay Ahlawat

NAXAL THREAT

INTERVIEW/CRPF SPECIAL DIRECTOR-GENERAL VIJAY RAMAN

By Syed Nazakat, The Week

CRPF Special Director-General Vijay Raman is in charge of the biggest anti-Naxal offensive underway in the Maoist-hit states. Raman, who commands over 60,000 personnel, is dealing with what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called “India’s biggest internal security challenge”.
During his posting in Kashmir, he was known for his aggressive tactics. The one thing Raman cherishes about his days in Kashmir is that he managed to develop and protect a group of informers. “That, unfortunately, is not happening in the Naxal-affected areas,” Raman told THE WEEK in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:

What are the challenges you face?
The challenge is to make state governments take the lead. We will provide them full support like it is happening in Maharashtra, where the police take action and we provide support. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stop police ‘excesses’ in Bastar: CPI to PM

Posted by Admin on July 17, 2010


Chhattisgarh police targeting party cadre in name of Maoists: CPI

NEW DELHI: The CPI is claiming that police in Chhattisgarh is targeting its leaders and cadres in the name of fighting Maoists. The party, which is planning to petition Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue, is also alleging that a police officer is on a political mission in Dantewada district.

Citing a statement made by senior superintendent of police S R P Kalluri to the media on June 10, the CPI said he had alleged that certain persons intended to eliminate the influence of the BJP and the Congress and spread the influence of the CPI in Bastar. “He considers this his mission. How is the police officer called upon to decide the relative influences of political parties in the region?” CPI general secretary A B Bardhan asked.

According to the CPI, among the persons named by him and arrested were known leaders and elected representatives of the party. It said that on July 10, security forces picked up party leader Sudru Ram Kunjam, the CPI’s elected member of the district panchayat.

CPI’s D Raja had taken up the matter with home secretary G K Pillai. On getting to know this, Mr Kalluri “threatened our leaders of dire consequences”, Mr Bardhan said. He has filed an FIR against Sudru Ram Kunjum containing “false and trumped up charges” and arrested others, including party leader Lala Ram Kunjum, the CPI said. The party also said that it was under Mr Kalluri’s instructions that a vehicle of the food security yatra led by Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze and CPI’s Annie Raja was attacked to prevent them from holding a street corner meeting.

Further, the CPI alleged that he has also threatened activists like Arundhati Roy, Nandini Sundar and others accusing them of having links with Maoists and arrested social activist Linga Ram. The CPI will seek the Prime Minister’s intervention for release of its cadres and putting an end to police “excesses”. ET

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Maoists want peace: Swami Agnivesh

Posted by Admin on July 15, 2010


Social Activist Swami Agnivesh, the interlocutor appointed by Home Minister P Chidambaram for talks with the CPI (Maoist), is at a loss. He has not been able to sleep ever since Maoist leader Azad’s death.

Azad’s letter to Swamiji was replete with optimism and promise towards ending violence. But before that could happen, Azad was killed by the Andhra police in an alleged ‘encounter’. Swamiji is unable to shrug off some accountability as he feels responsible, being the one to have played the pivotal role in trying to bring the Maoists to the talk table.

Disappointed at the Home Minister’s rejection of his demand of conducting a probe into Azad’s killing, but not utterly hopeless about the progress of the talks, Swami Agnivesh in an exclusive interview with Smita Mishra of Zeenews.com speaks about how the talks had reached a positive ground, what happened to Azad and what prospects lie ahead in bringing peace to the Naxal ravaged land.

What is your opinion regarding the killing of Maoist leader Azad?

Since I am part of the peace talks, I will not give an opinion. But there is no denying the fact that the death of Azad occurred under very mysterious circumstances. Most people and Maoists say that he was murdered after being captured by the Andhra police. The police staged a fake encounter to cover up their act. Read the rest of this entry »

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Security forces should vacate schools, HRD writes to states

Posted by Admin on July 15, 2010


While government forces and Naxals are engaged in a complex conflict across eight Naxal-affected states, schools and education are fast becoming a casualty in the fight. Taking note of the situation, the Union HRD Ministry has written to all Naxal-hit states asking that security forces occupying government schools vacate them at the earliest and schools damaged by Naxals be rebuilt

In a recent letter to chief secretaries of the eight Naxal-affected states, the HRD Ministry has noted how schools had begun to bear the brunt of the conflict and needed to be protected, sources said. Hundreds of schools in these states are being used to house security forces delpoyed in the area and several have even been turned into camps for them.

The HRD directive follows a report by international human rights organisation Human Rights Watch — “Sabotaged Schooling Naxalite Attacks and Police Occupation of Schools in India’s Bihar and Jharkhand States” — which said that education of tens of thousands of children in the conflict zone was being disrupted.

Apart from the HRW report, sample figures shared by Home Minister P Chidamabram in Parliament earlier this year revealed that Naxals had destroyed 71 schools buildings in 2009. In 2010 by March, nine school buildings have been attacked, Chidambaram had said. While the HRD Ministry is concentrating its efforts in these states, sanctioning 74 model schools for Chhattisgarh alone, there is a pressing need to do more.

The HRW report, accessed by The Indan Express, points out how both Naxalites and security forces were actually working in tandem to deprive children of schooling.

“Security forces are occupying government school buildings as bases for anti-Naxalite operations, sometimes only for few days but often for periods lasting years. Meanwhile, Naxalites…. are directly targeting and blowing up government schools… The government’s failure to promptly repair damaged schools enhances the lasting impact of such attacks. HRW is concerned with the use of schools that unnecessarily places children at risk and interferes with their right to education. Our research indicates that security forces are using government school buildings far too frequently, for far too long, and at far too great a cost of the education of students at these schools”, says the report.

In many cases, schools occupied by forces incur damage. Schools are often taken over by security forces at short notice, the report says.

It adds that Naxals’ claim that their attacks on schools do not disrupt children’s education as they only target schools used by security forces in counter-Naxalite operations are false. IE

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Long Live Com. Azad and Pandey: Statement from Federation for Democratic Rights-Partizan

Posted by Admin on July 15, 2010


News has arrived that Cherukuri Rajkumar, popularly known as “Comrade Azad”, Central Committee member, Political Bureau member and Party Spokesman of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) had been arrested by the Andhra Pradesh Special Police Forces along with Hem Pandey (Jittender) and brutally murdered in the forests of Adilabad on the border Maharastra. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has stated that both Azad and Hem Pandey have been murdered extrajudicially and that their deaths were portrayed as if there was a military encounter between the military and the revolutionaries. This method of “fake encounters” is a popular method among the State forces of India who employ such dirty tactics especially in regions were Maoists are powerful. Contradictory to the announcements of the Indian State, both Comrades, Azad and Hem Pandey were murdered while unarmed.

Azad and Hem Pandey, whom we regard as leaders of the Indian people’s struggle against poverty, starvation, exploitation and imperialist domination, have been murdered in a despicable manner. This has only sharpened our hatred of the Indian State. The Indian State’s recent violent, oppressive attacks on all revolutionary forces, including the Maoists further deepens the grudge we hold against India. Today the peasantry of India who strive to live off the land, and especially the Adivasi people, and the Maoists who lead the exploited millions in their struggle for freedom are targeted by the brutal and savage “Operation Green Hunt.” Through the course of this operation the Indian State has murdered countless people, including members of the vanguard of the people of India. Thus the State of India has shown the world its true face. The recent murder of Azad and Jitender displays the immutable political line pursued by reactionary states such as India, against the people and their political vanguard.

We turn our attention to the working class and oppressed millions of India. We turn our attention to their confident march towards a better future. The Indian People’s struggle for New Democracy, lead by the Maoist Communists gives inspiration to all oppressed peoples of the world. It also frightens the imperialist-capitalist reactionaries all over the world. From thousands of kilometers away, we salute the Indian People’s struggle for revolution with our sincerest internationalist feelings. We also firmly state that we embrace their perspective of struggling for People’s Democracy. With the same determination, we condemn the reactionary State of India. We embrace the values created by the People of India in their struggle for the golden age of mankind as if those values were our own. We also see all their martyrs as if those martyrs were our own.

We send this letter of condolence by the working people’s of our own country to the Indian People who have lost two of their comrades. Comrades Azad and Jittender are immovable barricades in the universal revolutionary battle against the reactionaries, and their memory will live on forever. The oppressed millions of India, lead by the Maoists, are struggling against this system of exploitation and oppression. The brutal, genocidal attacks by the State of India against these millions in struggle will inevitably fail. We are fully confident that the Revolution in India will succeed. We once again declare that we will not stay silent in the face of brutal attacks by Indian Expansionism against the Indian and Nepali People’s struggles for independence, democracy, socialism and communism.

Comrades Azad and Jittender are Immortal!

Long Live International Solidarity!

Long Live the Struggle for Revolution in India!

Down With Imperialism! Down With Indian Reactionaries!

FEDERATION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS-PARTIZAN

www.halkingunlugu.net

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AP: CPI(ML) Janashakti leader Amar arrested by Gujarat police

Posted by Admin on July 14, 2010


2010071358900101.jpg

Staff Reporter, The Hindu

Kura Amar

HYDERABAD: A special team of Gujarat police on Monday picked up top CPI (ML) Janashakti naxalite group leader, Kura Amar, from Nacharam here in connection with a criminal conspiracy case registered in that State six months ago.

Cyberabad police confirmed the arrest stating they were informed that Amar was picked up following a court warrant. The case was registered by Khamraj police of Surat district in Gujarat. Initially, speculation was rife that some private persons abducted Amar, with his wife, Vimala stating that the State government would be held responsible if any harm was caused to him.

Amar was riding pillion on a two-wheeler being driven by a friend, Mahipal, when the Gujarat police team arrested him near Kushaiguda bus depot around 8 p.m.

Touching moments, Former Janashakti leader Amar and others consoling the mother of Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad who was killed in a fake encounter.

Touching moments, Former Janashakti leader Amar and others consoling the mother of Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad who was killed in a fake encounter.

“A Scorpio hit our two-wheeler. Amar sustained bruises and was picked up by some Hindi-speaking men wearing plainclothes,” he told media persons.

With local news channels running scrolls that “Amar was abducted by unidentified persons”, teams from local police stations of Cyberabad launched search for him even before any complaint was lodged. Subsequently, they stopped the search on learning that Gujarat police had picked him up.

Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging war against the country) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) of Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Act were invoked against him.

Ms. Vimala, member of Janashakti cultural wing, charged that the government had conspired to suppress persons fighting for the cause of Telangana by implicating them in false cases of conspiracy and Amar’s arrest was a classic example.

Criminal cases

Amar hails from a village close to Vemulawada temple town of Karimnagar district.

He participated in peace talks with the Andhra Pradesh government as Janashakti emissary in 2004.

He was arrested in Maharashtra two years ago and brought to A.P.

He was released on bail and was active in the Telangana agitation.

He was facing several criminal cases, including arson and murder at the time of arrest.

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International Campaign Against War on the People : Condemn the Assassination of Azad, spokesperson of CPI (Maoist)

Posted by Admin on July 13, 2010


Condemn the Assassination of Azad, spokesperson of CPI (Maoist)

Support the Resistance Movement of Indian People

(Statement to be endorsed by Organisations and Individuals)

On July 1, 2010 the special police branch of the Indian state assassinated in cold blood, Azad, (Cherukuri Rajkumar) the spokesperson of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) having earlier forcefully abducted him and Hem Chandra Pandey, a freelance journalist accompanying him. Both were tortured and executed and their bodies dropped and left in a distant forest. Yet the state and the media at its disposal claim that the two were killed in an "armed encounter".

The assassination of Azad is a continuation of state terror and war on the people of India. This act exposes the disinformation campaign surrounding the state’s "ceasefire" proposal, which is nothing but a deception by the Government of India. It puts a spotlight on the real intentions of the regime in launching "Operation Green Hunt" which has turned the whole of India into a war zone and hurled the unrestrained brutality of 250,000 paramilitary and police forces against the people, in its attempts to auction off the natural resources of the country.

Those in power in India know full well that the brutal abduction and killing of Azad and other popular leaders of the resistance will deter neither the tribal people nor his party the CPI (Maoist) nor any who oppose the "Operation Green Hunt." This is an act of desperation of a system in deep crisis that seeks to extract maximum profits through unbridled exploitation. The Indian state does not and will not hesitate spilling the blood and extending terror against the majority of the people, in order to plunder every inch of the country for profits of the multinational corporations.

India has a long history of heroic popular resistance to the savage brutality by the imperialist powers and local reactionaries. The glorious struggle of independence against the savage domination of the British colonialists and the martyrdom of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh eventually led to the end of the colonial rule in India. Today, it is "Operation Great Hunt" and the contemptible assassination of Azad, a prominent leader of a people’s movement which has challenged the exploitative rule of the state, and who had been willing to negotiate for a ceasefire so that the poorest of the poor of India could get a respite from the military campaign by the state. This is a sign of the coming ruin of the Indian ruling classes which conceal its service to imperialism and reaction by masquerading as "the world’s largest democracy."

Azad was assassinated but we know there are many more Azads in India. While the Indian ruling classes and their controlled media continue their jubilant pretence about their recent "success", they tremble, knowing that Azad is immortalised and continues to live in every chant, in every dream and aspiration of the oppressed calling for Azadi (freedom) not only in India but in every region and in every country and every prison and torture chamber that the imperialist powers and reactionaries have constructed to continue their domination.

The struggle of the people of India against state terror and war deserves the support of all people across the world joined in common struggle against the plundering of natural resources and the exploitation of the common people for the benefit of the imperialists, fascists and their cohorts.

As democratic and freedom loving organisations and individuals across the world we condemn the brutal assassinations of Azad (Cherukuri Rajkumar) and journalist Hem Chandra Pandey, and support the call to join together to express solidarity with the people in India in their just struggle against the war and terror perpetrated by the Indian state in the name of "Operation Green Hunt".

Let us join our efforts and support the just struggle of oppressed everywhere!

This statement, being initiated by ICAWPI, is open for all the concerned that may wish to co-sign it. Please send your or your organisation’s name and your email address to infoThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to be listed as signatory of this statement. (The e-mail addresses will only be used for future notifications; they will not be published).

The International Campaign Against War on the People in India, further calls on organisations and individuals supportive of the campaign and all other progressive, democratic and freedom loving people across the world to join together and wherever possible take initiative to launch protest actions in front of the Indian embassies and consulates in order to:

Denounce the criminal war on the people of India,

Condemn the recent brutal assassination of Azad, the spokesperson of CPI (Maoist) and other leaders of the popular resistance by the Indian state; and, to demand

An end to "operation Green Hunt";

Freedom for all political prisoners in India.

Please forward this call widely; and join others in protesting the war and targeted assassinations of people’s leaders by the indian government. For further details please visit: www.icawpi.org

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Hem Pandey’s Encounter Death and Published Writings

Posted by Admin on July 13, 2010


hempandeysfamily.jpg

July 12, 2010, Source: Sanhati

Click here to read some published writings of Hem Pandey

Note from Concerned Citizens

Hem Chandra Pandey, a freelance journalist from Delhi was killed on 2 July 2010 along with Azad, spokesperson of CPI( Maoist). He comes from Dewaltal town of Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.

His wife Babita Pandey identified him when she saw a photograph of his dead body published in Enadu on 3 July 2010 and informed the press in a press conference held in Press Club Delhi on the same day.

Hem Pandey with his family

Rajiv Lochan Saha a renowned intellectual from Uttarakhand and the Chief Editor of Nainatal Samachar introduced her to the press and told the press he knows Hem Chandra Pandey and Babita as journalists for a long time.

She told the press that her husband was a freelance journalist and regularly wrote to Hindi newspapers like Nai Dunia, Rastriya Sarara, Dainik Jagaran and papers. As it was not enough for the family to run with the meagre amount of money that he earns through freelancing, he also works for a paper called Chetana on corporate communications run by a company called DARCL Logistics LTD on regular basis. He was one of the sub-editors for this magazine called Chetana at the time of his death.

hempandeysmotherscomplaint.jpg

She also informed all those who were present there that Hem Chandra Pandey had an MA in Economics from Kumaon University, Nainaital. He also had a Diploma in Translation from Bharatiya Vidhya Bhawan in Delhi. He also did a Diploma course in Journalism. He was pursuing his Ph D course from Almora Campus of Kumaon University.

Babita showed some of his certificates and also the salary certificates of the company where he was a regular employee at the time of his killing on 2 July 2010. He took leave from his magazine office for two days when he went to Nagapur.

Copies of his salary slips for two months are attached here.

After the press conference on 3 July, some police officers challenged her version and maintained that her husband was not a journalist.

Surprisingly, by the end of the Press Conference, in a flash of the moment, Nai Dunia, Dainik Jagaran and Rastriya Sahara issued statements separately that Hem Pandey was never a contributor to their papers. But his articles exist on the internet sites of these papers.

Hem Chandra Pandey wrote all his contributions to different newspapers with the name Hemant Pandey as a freelance journalist. However he never hid his identity. He made legal certificate, affidavit that both names are his. Copies of this affidavit are available.

hempandeyssalarycertificate.jpg

Copies of some of his articles are attached here with full citations made available from internet. His wife informed that he wrote frequently and all clippings are available in his house. When she returns to Delhi along with Hem’s dead body she can provide all clippings.

All the documentary evidence that exists in black and white clear establishes that he was a freelance journalist based in Delhi and a regular employee of a magazine.

********

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Named by police as Maoist ‘mastermind’, Lingaram protests his innocence

Posted by Admin on July 13, 2010


Lingaram Kadopi from Chhattisgarh addressing a press conference flanked by Prashant Bhushan and Swami Agnivesh in New Delhi on Monday

Lingaram Kadopi from Chhattisgarh addressing a press conference flanked by Prashant Bhushan and Swami Agnivesh in New Delhi on Monday

Academic threatens to take stern action against the police for “act of gross defamation”

In a press conference on Sunday, S.R.P Kalluri, Senior Superintendent of Police of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, identified the prime suspect behind the July 6 attack on the house of Congress worker and civil contractor Avdesh Singh Gautam. According to a press release circulated by the Chhattisgarh police, “this attack was masterminded by Lingaram Kodopi, a resident of Sameli village.”

“In the last few months, Kodopi had received training in terrorist techniques in Delhi and Gujarat,” the release stated, claiming that Lingaram was “in touch” with writer Arundhati Roy, activist Medha Patkar and Nandini Sundar, a sociology professor at the Delhi School of Economics. The police also said that Kodopi was tipped to succeed Communist Party of India (Maoist) central spokesperson Azad, after the latter was killed by the Andhra Pradesh Police on July 2 this year.

Those named in the press release have condemned this attempt to drag them into the case and Professor Sundar said she intended to take stern action against the police for what she described as an act of gross defamation.

Curiously, despite naming Lingaram the Chhattisgarh-in charge of the Maoists, the State police have so far made no attempt to arrest him, raising questions whether the police even believe their own version of events. Lingaram is currently enrolled in a journalism programme at the International Media Institute of India in Noida. He held a tearful press conference in New Delhi on Monday protesting his innocence.

Security experts have questioned the rationale behind the police publicly announcing the name of a possible Maoist “mastermind” and only then seeking to apprehend him. “Frankly, they [the police] have destroyed the case before they made it, if they did ever have a case,” said Dr. Ajai Sahni, Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management. “If Lingaram wanted, he could have gone underground by now. They have been compromised operationally and legally.”

Director-General of Police, Chhattisgarh, Viswarajan, told The Hindu a police team had been dispatched to Delhi to question Kodopi. “We are acting on information that a contact passed on to SSP Kalluri,” said the DGP. “Arrests, if any, will be made only after questioning Lingaram.”

Speaking to reporters, Lingaram broke down as he narrated his past experiences with the Chhattisgarh police. “I have no connection with the Maoists,” he said. “The police is simply harassing me.” His lawyers said he was ready to answer any questions the police might have.

“In September last year, the Dantewada police picked me up from my village and kept me in detention for 40 days,” Lingaram said, alleging that the police repeatedly tried to force him to become a Special Police Officer. “The police released me only when my family approached the Chhattisgarh High Court in Bilaspur and filed a habeas corpus petition.”

Fighting back tears, he said he would prefer to kill himself to facing the prospect of being arrested and tortured by the Chhattisgarh police again.

Writ petition (habeas corpus) No. 5469/2009, filed in the High Court on September 18 2009 by Lingaram’s brother, Masaram Kodopi, alleges “that the police picked up Lingaram Kodopi from his house on 26/27th August 2009. When the members of his family and villagers went to the police station the police refused to accept that he was in their detention and then after the villagers persisted in their enquiries they stated that Lingaram had come of his own accord to become an SPO.”

In an order dated October 6 2009, the High Court directed that Lingaram be allowed to return to his family. The court, however, noted that he himself had made no allegations of illegal detention.

At his press conference, he said he did not speak about his confinement before the judge because the police had threatened him with dire consequences.

He said he left Chhattisgarh soon after his release as he feared for his personal safety, but is worried that the police may now harass his family members who are still at Sameli village. In April, he appeared before the Indian People’s Tribunal in Delhi along with a dozen or so victims of police atrocities – including several teenage widows — whom he had fetched from Dantewada at great risk to himself.

“The only Lingaram I know is a young boy staying at Delhi Forum [an NGO],” said writer Arundhati Roy in a statement emailed to The Hindu. “He has spoken at several public forums and told the story of being kidnapped by the Salwa Judum. For the police to say he was a replacement for Azad and is in charge of Chhattisgarh operations is delusional.”

Prof. Sundar said that she met Lingaram when he moved to Delhi last year. “I met Linga when he moved to Delhi after being tortured and forced to become an SPO by the Dantewada police,” she wrote in an email. “It is preposterous to suggest he is the mastermind of the attack on Avdesh Gautam. By linking him, and, in turn, all of us, to the attack, the Chhattisgarh police appear to have completely lost their minds.” Prof. Sundar, who has filed a PIL petition in the Supreme Court against Salwa Judum atrocities, said the police wanted to prejudice the case by falsely claiming that civil society critics like herself were linked to the Maoists.

SSP Kalluri was not available for comment.

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