July 10, 2013 2:13:51 am
A Raipur court Tuesday convicted eight persons for spreading the Maoist network in urban areas. This is being seen by the Chhattisgarh Police as its biggest success so far in cracking Maoist cases.
Of the eight accused,the court of Additional Sessions Judge N D Tigala found five of them guilty of conspiring to wage war against the government and sedition. The five,K S Priya,Meena Chaudhary,senior journalist Prafulla Jha,his son Prateek Jha and Siddharth Sharma,were sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment (RI).
They were also found guilty of charges that attracted provisions of IPC,Arms Act,Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act and the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act. The other three,Ramesh Khubwani,his brother Naresh and Dayaram Sahu,were found guilty under the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act and sentenced to three years of RI.
The police said Priya lived in Durg and is the wife of Gudsa Usendi,spokesperson of Dandakaranya Special Zone Committee of the CPI (Maoist). Last year,the Maoists had demanded the release of Priya and Meena in exchange for abducted Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon. In October 2010,Priya was awarded 10 years jail for sending Maoist-related CDs to MLAs in Chhattisgarh.
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In the latest case,the prosecution said on January 21,2008,Priya and Prafulla were travelling in a car with a few bags that contained arms,wireless sets,chargers and other equipment. Another Maoist team was supposed to collect them. But when they did not turn up,the two dropped these items at Dangania,Raipur. It was later seized by the police. On the same night,the police raided Maharashtra mandal in Raipur and arrested Priya and Meena. Based on their statements,the police arrested Prafulla,Prateek and Siddharth.
The prosecution said the Khubwanis have a cloth store in Bilaspur where they stitched uniforms for the Maoists with the help of Raipur-based tailor Sahu. The police seized 634 metres of military green cloth,200 trousers,107 shirts were seized from them. The three got bail later.
The police had also named 17 others,including Usendi and some other senior Maoist leaders,were named in the chargesheet filed on March 23,2008. The prosecution presented around 40 witnesses.
Sadiq Ali,counsel for Priya and Meena,expressed satisfaction with the verdict. The three have already served their term and should be released soon. The other five have already served five and a half years in prison, he said.
However,many say the jail term was less when compared to the charges. Priya was given 10 years RI for sending CDs to MLAs,an offence far less serious when compared to present charges.
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