The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to treat arrested Maoist leader Telugu Dipak,PCAPA chief Chhatradhar Mahato,CPI (Maoist) spokesperson Gaur Chakraborty and four other suspected Maoists as political prisoners. The other four are Sukh Shanti Baske,Prasun Chatterjee,Sambhu Soren and Sagun Murmu,who were arrested from Junglemahal. All have been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Other charges against them include sedition,carrying out anti-national activities,criminal conspiracy,and several sections of Arms Act and Explosives Substance Act.
Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia issued the direction while hearing a plea filed by Subasish Roy,the counsel of the seven. Roy argued they have been booked under the UAPA for being alleged members of the CPI (Maoist),a banned political party.
He said the seven were arrested for their alleged anti-national activities,and as they were members of a political party,the High Court should declare them as political prisoners according to the legal provisions of West Bengal Correctional Services Act.
Gaur Chakraborty was arrested from Kolkata on June 23,2009,in the backdrop of the violence in Lalgarh and charged under the UAPA. PCAPA chief Chhatradhar Mahato,who took centrestage during the Lalgarh agitation,was arrested in September 26,2009,from Birkar village in Lalgarh. Police charged him under UAPA sections and for carrying out anti-national activities. He was booked in 35 more criminal cases,in most of which he has got bail. Currently lodged at Midnapore Central Jail,Mahato had filed his nomination for the Assembly polls and has written open letters to intellectuals asking them to explain why they are not raising their voice against the pathetic condition of political prisoners in so-called correctional homes in West Bengal and torture in police lock-up.
Interestingly,Mahato had also sent a letter to members of Bondi Mukti Committee,set up by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to recommend release of political prisoners,and asked them to clarify what they have done to release political prisoners a promise made by Trinamool Congress in the run-up to the Assembly polls. Words such as bondi mukti and withdrawal of cases against political prisoners appear to be farce for persons like us who are languishing in jails for being involved in mass movement, Mahato wrote in the letter.
Venkateshwara Reddy alias Telugu Dipak was arrested on March 2,2010,from Thakurpukur in Behala by the CID. A close associate of Maoist leader Kishenji,Dipak is linked directly in at least 40 cases of murder and attack,said police. According to the police,he personally executed the landmine blast in Daldali that killed 5 EFR personnel. He is also accused of murdering CPM leader Rabi Kar in Bandwan.
Dipak played an active role in the agitations in Nandigram and Khejuri areas.
As political prisoners,they will enjoy extra facilities that include being lodged in separate cells,receiving newspapers and books,meeting with relatives and advocates and getting beds to sleep on. They will also get medical diet in jail hospital.