Updated: March 7, 2015 3:39:11 am
Amnesty International-India on Friday appealed to the Kerala government to release two human rights activists arrested for their “links” with Maoists. The police had arrested Jaison C Cooper and Thushar Nirmal Sarathy from two different locations on January 30 alleging they were involved in the recent suspected Maoist attacks in the state. The police had recovered Maoist literature from their possession.
Sarthy, as an advocate, was giving legal aid to two youths earlier arrested for their “connection” with suspected Maoist attacks. Cooper, a state government employee, was picked up from his office in connection with an attack on the project office of the National Highway Authority of India in Kochi.
Sarathy was arrested from Kozhikode when he was coming out of a press conference held to deplore the “persecution” of human rights activists under the “guise” of crackdown on Maoists. They were charged with provisions under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
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Shameer Babu, programmes director, Amnesty International-India, said, “Indian courts have stated on multiple occasions that mere possession of certain literature cannot be considered a crime. The National Human Rights Commission has asked for a report from the Kerala police on the arrests. Authorities must ensure that the two men are protected from torture and other ill-treatment.”
He claimed the investigating officer admitted that the only existing evidence against the arrested men was the Maoist literature found in their possession. The police also said that they had found in Sarathy’s house a document signed by a Maoist leader giving him power of attorney.
Sarathy’s wife alleged that her husband was arrested because he was an active member of several groups protesting against land acquisition by the state government. Cooper has also been actively engaged in protests against land acquisitions and forced evictions.
Recently, the Kerala police have detained several people across the state on suspicion of being Maoist supporters. Some have been subsequently released. “Human rights activists in Kerala must be able carry out their work without intimidation or harassment and authorities must take prompt action against those who violate their rights,” said Shemeer Babu.
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