Seema Azad, editor of the left-wing journal DASTAK published from Allahabad, was taken into custody by the police Saturday, 6th February, soon after she alighted from the train on her return from the Book Fair at Delhi. She, along with her husband and left-wing activist Vishwa Vijaya Azad, has been detained at the Khuldabad Police Station. Seema Azad just published a collection of articles criticizing the Indian government for its “Operation Greenhunt” — the ongoing massive military attack by the government against the tribal inhabitants of central India. The booklet contains articles by noted authors and media-persons such as Arundhati Roy, Himanshu Kumar, Anil Chamaria, Punya Prasoon Vajpeyi, Sunita Narayan, and others. Although they were produced before a court in Allahabad, the details of the charges leveled against Seema Azad and Vishva Vijaya were not specified. Seema is the state secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) for Uttar Pradesh. The PUCL has released the following letter addressed to the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi.
|Seema Is a Human Right Worker, Not a ‘Naxali’
Letter to the National Human Right Commission, New Delhi
We want to acknowledge you that Seema Azad ,journalist ,human right worker and executive member of peoples Union for civil liberties (PUCL), and her husband former student leader Vishwavijay and friend Asha, were detained by the police on Allahabad Railway Junction without any proper reason on Saturday(6th Feb 2010). Both of them were returning from World Book Fair, New Delhi by the Reewanchal Express. According to police they all are Naxalite.
Sir, the organization wants to highlight the background of detention. PUCL has continuously raised the voice against the atrocity done by the police-Bahubalies nexus in kachhari region of Allahabad and Kausambi district on the sand mining labours. Due to the pressure of politician and Bahubalies, DIG of Allahabad has framed many fraud cases against the labour movement leader. DIG had banned the ‘Lal Salam’ cited it as against the nationality. PUCL had condemned the ban saying that it was natural address of Communist party. According to PUCL ‘Lal Salam’ is a common address of labourer across the world. Raising the cause of fighting labour against the illegal collection and illegal mining of sand in Nanda ka Pura village of Kausambi, the minster Seema azad and advocate K. K. Roy of PUCL has issued a report on human right violation. In past one month the police and PAC jawans has unleashed the Lathicharge couple of times in Nanda ka Pura village. Police had torched the local office of CPI (ML) New Damocracy in Nanda village. And their leader were detained in the jail for several days in fraud cases. The voice against them, doesn’t suit the mood of DIG of Allahabad and police. Police doesn’t want that the voice should be raised by any organization against their working style. The arrest of Seema Azad, her husband Vishwavijay and friend Aasha is done by the police in the revenge. Seema Azad has no any connection with the Naxalite and she is working in the field of human right for past several years. She is also editor of a monthly magazine ‘Dastak’. She has made report on serious issues like human right situation in eastern Utter Pradesh, labour movement, SEZ, situation of Mushar cast and Encephalitis disease. Vishwavijay, husband of Seema Azad, and his friend Aasha were active student leader of Central university of Allahabad for a long time. They have strongly raised the concerned problem of students under the banner of ‘INQUALABI CHHATRA MORCHA’. The persons which are naxalite, according to the police, are working in between students and labour for a long time.
Sir, in past also UP Police has threatened the leader of PUCL working for the human right concern. PUCL has raised the questions against the encounter of Kamlesh Chaudhoury in Chandauly dated 9th November. After that , in a press conference dated 11th November 2009, DGP Brijlal has articulated that “the action would be taken against the PUCL leader”(see Dainik Hindustan of November 12, 2009). The Allahabad arrest of Seema Azad is a chain of the same retaliation.
Hence, we appeal for the prompt action in the matter and also we appeal that police atrocity and human right violation should be stopped. We also demand that Seema Azad and her friend should be released as soon as possible.
Vandana Mishra, General Secretary, PUCL, U.P.
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Cf. See, also, Vijay Pratap Singh (with ENS-Lucknow), “Family Protests as PUCL UP Secy among ‘Naxals’ Held in State” (Yahoo! India News, 8 February 2010):
Among the three alleged Naxalites arrested from Allahabad and Gorakhpur by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force on Saturday was the state secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Seema Srivastava. She was picked up along with her husband, Vishwavijay Azad alias Kamalji.
While Srivastava, 35, and Azad were arrested from Allahabad, Asha alias Heerman Munda was arrested from Gorkhapur.
Produced before a court in Allahabad, Srivastava said she or her husband had no links with Naxals, nor were they involved in any illegal activity. While she claimed they together brought out a monthly magazine called Dastak, the police say Azad is the head of the Uttar Pradesh State Organising Committee of the CPI(Maoist).
PUCL state president Chitranjan Singh confirmed that Srivastava was the organisation’s state secretary, and said they would approach the National Human Rights Commission. Rajeev Yadav, organising secretary of the PUCL, said the couple had been targeted as Srivastava had organised protests against the “encounter” that killed Kamlesh Choudhary, a Naxal leader, in Sonbhadra district in November.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Brij Lal said the couple were arrested following disclosures made by Asha, who is reportedly a member of the CPI(Maoist)’s Central Mahila Sub-Committee.
The STF team seized banned Naxal literature, a camera and Rs 1.11 lakh from the three, he said.
The Additional Director General said Azad and Srivastava, residents of Madhuban village in Allahabad district, had been working to expand the Naxalite base in the state for the past three to four years. Munda, according to him, was a native of Tinkara village of Bihar’s Chapra district and had been staying in Krishnanagar colony area of Gorakhpur.
Srivastava’s father M P Srivastava, a retired assistant labour commissioner, however, termed the arrest a conspiracy against her. “She was a good student, and completed her Masters in Psychology from Allahabad University in 2000. She got married to Vishwavijay Azad and entered student politics. As a father who has (seen her) since childhood, I do not subscribe to what police claim of her,” M P Srivastava told The Indian Express.
Azad, a former student leader of Allahabad University, belongs to a rich family of Mau district.
In their magazine Dastak, Srivastava and Azad had been very vocal against the sand mafia in Allahabad and adjoining regions. M P Srivastava said Seema, the younger of his two daughters, has always been very “upright and bold”. “She has never compromised with her values. She could have been a teacher and would have spent her life with ease, but she preferred to serve the downtrodden.”
“Why did the police arrest her like a criminal?” he asked. “She was coming from New Delhi by Rewanchal Express on Saturday. Her husband went to receive her at the Allahabad junction. The STF arrested the duo and kept them at an undisclosed location. The police informed me only today (Sunday) morning about her arrest.”
This letter was first published online by New Generation (8 February 2010) and Ground Report India (9 February 2010); it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.