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UP lawyer-activists' arrests 'result of' tough legal challenge to free political prisoners

Counterview Desk 

The civil rights network*, Campaign Against State Repression(CASR), has said that the recent arrest Of advocate Kripa Shanker Singh and former teacher Binda Sona Singh under alleged Maoist links case in UP is the result of their legal fight for political prisoners. Ironically, the arrests took place on the same day, on 5th March 2024, when ex-Delhi University professor Dr GN Saibaba was released on being exonerated for similar charges after 10 years of illegal incarceration.
The charges against the two, said CASR in a statement, "are based entirely on the extraction of data from the electronic devices held by these activists that have been seized and the investigation conducted by the Forensic Science Laboratory which have allegedly found Maoist documents on their devices. However, "the government has failed to concretely provide any details on what exactly these documents include."

Text:

On 5th March 2024, the Anti-Terrorism Squad UP raided the home of Allahabad High Court advocate Kripa Shanker Singh, a former teacher and now private typist at Allahabad High Court Binda Sona Singh, after which the two were arrested by the ATS. Kripa Shanker Singh is an eminent lawyer who has been fighting cases related to political prisoners.
The case in which they were arrested was registered in 2019 when political activists and intellectuals Manish and Amita Azad were arrested. Many lawyers, eminent academics and political activists were interrogated during the course of that case’s investigation. Similarly in 2010, Manish’s sister, People’s Union for Civil Liberties UP State President Seema Azad and her partner, lawyer Vishwa Vijay, were arrested in 2012 under a similar case where the state alleged that they were members of the Maoist party.
While the Azads were released on bail, 6 months ago Brijesh (of the Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Manch in Deoria) and a pregnant Prabha Kushwaha (of the Savitri Bai Phule Sangharsh Samiti) were also arrested by UP ATS from their home in Deoria.
On 9th December 2023, a day before the world celebrated the Human Rights Day, Prabha underwent a miscarriage due to the lack of medical facilities provided to her by the police in a timely manner, the denial of a bail to her by the Courts on medical grounds even when doctors recommended it due to hers being a high-risk pregnancy, under this very “Maoist links” case.
This act expresses how the state essentially killed the Kushwahas’ baby in womb and sidelined the humanitarian ground and justified all acts of oppression on political prisoners. The arrests of the Singhs makes this the third arrest of an activist couple in Uttar Pradesh under the “Maoist links” case.
In the last 6 months, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has raided student organizations, homes of farmers union activists, anti-caste activists, authors, intellectuals, lawyers and human rights activists all under this very “Maoist links” case in a harassment campaign, deeming them all as potentially linked to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
On the same day, on 5th March 2024, ex-Delhi University educator Dr GN Saibaba, scholar and cultural activist Hem Mishra, journalist Prashant Rahi, Adivasi peasant activists Mahesh Tirki, Vijay Tirki and the institutionally murdered activist Pandu Narote were acquitted for a second time by the Bombay High Court after a decade of false incarceration.
During the same case, people’s activist Pandu Narote was killed at the hands of the state in prison after wilfully choosing to not move him to the ICU ward after he suffered from swine flu, to which he succumbed at the young age of 33.
In the acquittal order of this case, the High Court bench reiterated the position that not only is upholding the Maoist ideology/philosophy not a crime or evidence of membership of the CPI (Maoist), having access to documents related to the philosophy of “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” or documents of CPI (Maoist) on them, electronically or otherwise, is also not a crime and not evidence of membership of the Maoist party since they are so readily available on the internet.
State is trying to establish narrative and lay founding stone for multiple Bhima Koregaon-like conspiracy cases across India
Yet, in the Uttar Pradesh Maoist links case in which Kripa Shanker Singh and Binda Sona Singh have been arrested on the very same day as this judgement, the NIA and ATS’ charges are based entirely on the extraction of data from the electronic devices held by these activists that have been seized and the investigation conducted by the Forensic Science Laboratory which have allegedly found Maoist documents on their devices.
The government has failed to concretely provide any details on what exactly these documents include. The NIA, ED and ATS in Uttar Pradesh have become the swords with which the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government unleash the brunt of Brahmanical Hindutva fascism on all democratic rights, anti-caste, women’s rights, civil liberties, anti-displacement, anti-communal, anti-fascist activists to silence all forms of political dissent, unleashing a spate of Red Scare tactics upon such activists by branding them all with varying shades of “urban Naxals.”
This has also been the general trend all across India since the advent of Brahmanical Hindutva fascism after the victory of the BJP in 2014, particularly intensifying after the arrests conducted in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case. The state is trying to establish the narrative and lay the founding stones for multiple such Bhima Koregaon-like conspiracy cases across India, putting forth the idea that very existence of political democratic dissent is equitable with Naxalism.
After all, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself stated in the 2022 Surajkund Chintan Shivir that “every form of Naxalism, be it of the pen or the gun, must be uprooted.” In this distorted narrative of Brahmanical Hindutva fascism then, a lawyer fighting the cases of political prisoners, for democratic rights of people, like Kripa Shanker Singh, becomes a Maoist.
CASR strongly condemns the arrest of Allahabad High Court advocate Kripa Shanker Singh and and former teacher Binda Sona Singh for their contributions in fighting against the incarceration of activists and the release of political prisoners.
CASR demands the immediate release of Kripa Shanker Singh and Binda Sona Singh.
We demand an immediate end to the witch hunting campaign of the NIA, ATS and the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government against all democratic activists under the name of “Maoist links” case.
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*AIRSO, AISA, AISF, APCR, BASF, BSM, Bhim Army, bsCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, DISSC, DSU, DTF, Forum Against Repression Telangana, Fraternity, IAPL, Innocence Network, Karnataka Janashakti, Progressive Lawyers Association, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, NAPM, Nishant Natya Manch, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad, Smajwadi Lok Manch, Bahujan Samjavadi Manch, SFI, United Against Hate, United Peace Alliance, WSS, Y4S

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