Three Maoists get political status

Three alleged Maoist leaders, who were involved in the anti-land acquisition movement in Nandigram, have been given the status of political prisoner by the Calcutta High Court.

Prakash Muniyan, Gourhari Mondal and Radheshyam Giri were arrested from Sagar Island near Kakdwip in South 24-Parganas in 2007 at the height of Nandigram movement. Active members of Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), which was set up to spearhead the movement, the three had fled Nandigram after CPI-M cadres recaptured the area “at gun point” in November 2007.

Prakash, a resident of Sauthkhali village in Nandigram actively participated in Nandigram movement; Radhyeshyam, a resident of Sonachura village in Nandigram, and Gourhari of Gangra village were also active BUPC supporters, police had claimed.

Having seen them moving suspiciously in an island near Sagar, locals had caught them and handed them over to the police. They were taken to Sagar police station where they were interrogated. Instead of producing them before the court within 24 hours of arrest, the three were produced before Kakdwip court after 48 hours. “The magistrate had reprimanded the investigating officer and even ordered senior officers of the state police to take action against him,” the trio’s lawyer Kallol Das said.

The case was later handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which took the three in their custody for two weeks. The BUPC activists were allegedly tortured in the custody, Das alleged. Police brought charges under several sections of the IPC, including sedition, against the three and dubbed them as Maoist leaders.

The case was later transferred to Alipore Court. Since then the three are languishing at Alipore Central Correctional Home.

High Court advocate Subhashis Roy had filed a petition before the Alipore fourth Fast Track Court last year seeking the status of political prisoner for the three. But the petition was turned down.

“In December last year I had filed a petition before the Calcutta High Court and demanded that the three be declared political prisoners. The government’s counsel opposed the move. But the case was admitted and finally the three were given the status of political prisoners yesterday by Justice Kanwaljit Singh,” Roy said.

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