Protest against the arrests of human rights activists
An international campaign has been started by the India Committee of the Netherlands to protest against the arrests of human rights activists under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act in India and particularly in the state of Andhra Pradesh; and to demand the immediate release of Dr. K. Balagopal, general secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) and several other human rights activists.
Lecturers and professors of several universities sent an open letter to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N.T. Rama Rao and to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to demand normal legal procedures for Dr. K. Balagopal, a university lecturer in mathematics. Besides human rights' and other organisations are asked to write letters to
demand the immediate release of Dr. K. Balagopal and other human rights activists.
Dr. K. Balagopal was arrested on November 16, 1985 under section 3 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TDAP Act) and falsely charged with the murder of police sub-inspector Yadagiri Reddy, who was killed by a group of unknown assailants on September 2, 1985. Under this TDAP Act, which was enforced in Andhra Pradesh in 1985,
the definitions of 'terrorist act' and 'disruptive activity' are wide enough to cover any democratic protest, dissent or voicing of grievances. Once in jail the 'suspect' can be kept there for one year without having a charge sheet filed against him or her in court. Nobody arrested under this act can be released on bail, unless the court is satisfied that (s)he is not guilty. The trial is held in camera.
With the increasing political activities in the state, the state machinery has proved to be more repressive. Greater powers have been given to the police and with the introduction of new repressive acts (such as the abovementioned Act), a large number people are being harassed, arrested and shot dead. In the last year there have been at least 40 cases of rape by policemen. All this is done in the name of maintaining law and order in the state.
Human rights organisations have played a crucial role in investigating such police atrocities and bringing to public notice the facts of such incidents as they occurred. They were among the organisations that mobilised public protest in October 1984 when the present Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N.T. Rama Rao was undemocratically thrown out of office by the manipulations of Indira Gandhi.
The repression that members of an organisation like APCLC are now facing is an indication of their effectiveness: the exposure of brutalities of the police has become an embarrasment to the state government.
In this year alone several of the district level office bearers of human rights organisations have been arrested and implicated on false charges. Same of them have been tortured while in police custody. On September 3, 1985 the police entered the clinic of Dr. Ramanatham, vice-president of the APCLC, and shot him dead. This was the day after the death of sub-inspector of police Yadagiri Reddy.
The arrest of several human rights activists on false charges and under one of the most undemocratic and arbitrary acts deserves to be condemned by people concerned with human rights allover the world.