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Monday, April 12, 2021

NIA searches homes of activists, lawyers in Andhra, Telangana over ‘Maoist plot’

This follows an FIR registered last month, naming 64 individuals including journalists, lawyers and civil rights activists.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary , Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad, New Delhi |
Updated: April 2, 2021 7:15:38 am
The NIA said the searches were linked to the case “relating to furthering the activities of the proscribed organization, CPI (Maoist), in Andhra Pradesh in the guise of frontal organizations”.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has conducted searches at 31 locations across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in connection with a case of an alleged Maoist conspiracy against the police and the government. This follows an FIR registered last month, naming 64 individuals including journalists, lawyers and civil rights activists.

The searches, which began Wednesday evening and continued Thursday, were spread across eight districts of Andhra Pradesh — Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Prakasam, Srikakulam, Kurnool, Krishna, East Godavari and Kadapa — and four districts of Telangana — Ranga Reddy, Hyderabad, Medchal-Malkajgiri and Medak.

The NIA said the searches were linked to the case “relating to furthering the activities of the proscribed organization, CPI (Maoist), in Andhra Pradesh in the guise of frontal organizations”.

It said the searches had led to the seizure of 40 mobile phones, 44 SIM cards, 70 storage devices, 184 CDs/DVDs, 19 pen drives, Rs 10 lakh in cash from an accused, sickles, axe, machetes besides documents, CPI (Maoist) flags, party literature and press notes.

Six persons have already been arrested in the case – they have been identified as journalist Pangi Naganna, Anduluri Annapurna, Jangarla Koteswar Rao, Manukonda Srinivasa Rao, Rela Rajeswari and Boppudi Anjamma.

This is the second major case that the NIA has registered against leading civil rights activists after the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case.

In the present case, registered on March 7, the NIA said its FIR was based on a case filed by Andhra Pradesh police last year following the arrest of journalist Pangi Naganna.

According to the NIA, on November 23 last year, personnel of the Munchingput police station in Visakhapatnam district intercepted Pangi Naganna near Basuput village while he was on his motorcycle. A search of his baggage led to the alleged recovery of Maoist literature, press releases, medicines and wire bundles.

“Upon examination, Pangi Naganna revealed that he has been working as a journalist and passing information about police movements to the Maoists. He has also been involved in instigating villagers to stop combing operations, obstruct police from entering villages, revolt against police parties and to hold rallies against the government,” the NIA FIR stated.

In Hyderabad, the NIA and police teams searched the house of advocate Rathunath Verose, vice-president of Civil Liberties Committee, Telangana. The residence of Dappu Ramesh, a former member of Jana Nitya Mandali, was also searched.

A civil rights activist, Verose is known for taking up cases of custodial deaths, rehabilitation of project oustees, and helping people file habeas corpus petitions.

Rights activists condemned the searches, saying the government was intimidating voices of dissent. G Laxman, president of the Civil Liberties Committee, said: “This indicates growing intolerance. Voices are being suppressed through intimidation and raids. Without any proof or evidence, they are raiding and searching homes of activists. False cases under UAPA are being filed.”

In Andhra Pradesh, searches were conducted at the premises of V S Krishna, the AP and Telangana Coordination Committee member of Human Rights Forum; Chilika Chandrasekhar, general secretary of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee; Varalakshmi of Virasam (Viplava Rachayitala Sangham) and Telugu Revolutionary Writers Association (Kadapa); APCLC president C Babu (Rajahmundry), advocates K Padma and K Challam (Visakhapatnam); G Pinakapani of Revolutionary Writers Association (Kurnool); and, Somasekhar Sarma, president of Rayalaseema Vidyavanthula Vedika.

V S Krishna has been fighting for the rights of tribals. His organisation has been opposing mining in forest areas. “Some officials searched my house and office and took away some material. This is nothing but intimidation and scare tactics to silence dissenting voices,” Krishna said.

Pinakapani said cases were being foisted on activists simply for voicing their opinion. “Merely having some literature is enough to be labelled a Maoist sympathiser,” he said.

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