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Uttar Pradesh: Civil Liberties Activists Arrested

News has just come that Seema Azad, editor of  the left-wing journal DASTAK published from Allahabad was taken into custody by the police yesterday 6th February, soon after she alighted from the train on her return from the Book Fair at Delhi. She along her husband and left-wing activist Vishwa Vijaya have been detained at the Khuldabad Police Station.

A large number of  intellectuals as well as social activists are protesting against this police action. It is to  be noted that this action comes soon after Seema Azad published a collection of articles criticizing the government for its Operation Greenhunt. 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. Details of the charges leveled against Seema Azad and Vishva Vijaya are awaited.

Meanwhile, please contact the following persons for update:
Advocate Ravi Kiran Jain mobile 09335108309
ETV  Correspondence Mushtaq Amir  09336570100


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."

Indian Express, 08.02.2010