MANGALORE: “Nothing can stop me from my fight for the rights of forest dwellers,” said Mangalore University journalism student Vittala Malekudiya after he was released from the district jail here on Thursday.
Vittala and his father Linganna Malekudiya, who were arrested by the Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) on March 3 for allegedly supporting Naxals, were released on bail after 125 days of their arrest. The court on Tuesday had granted them bail on the grounds that the police had failed to file chargesheet against the duo even after the stipulated 90 days.
Vittala said he would continue his fight against forceful eviction of tribals from the forest. “This arrest and humiliation will not deter me from continuing to participate in fights for rights of forest dwellers. I will continue to fight for the tribals and at the same time, I will continue my studies to fulfill my dreams of becoming a journalist. I was branded as a Naxal supporter for the simple reason that I was participating in protests for the rights of forest dwellers,” he said.
On government’s package offer for those who come out of the forest, Vittala asserted that he and his family will never leave forest. “Whatever is the package offer, it is our right and we will continue to live in forest,” he added.
Linganna said that he had to suffer a lot mental and physical torture after the arrest by ANF. “They tortured me physically and broke my leg when I was in their custody. Now I am not able to walk without crutches,” he explained. “I was worried only about my wife and daughter when I was in jail. My daughter is a nursing student and I was worried about her education as I was the only breadwinner of the family. This experience (in the jail) has made me strong. I will continue to fight for the rights of the forest dwellers,” Linganna asserted.
Vittala and Linganna were charged under sections 10 and 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 121 of the IPC. High court judge Justice Subhash B Adi on June 20 disposing of the bail petition filed by Vittala had asked him to approach the jurisdictional court to seek bail under Section 167(2) of CrPC as the police had failed to file chargesheet within stipulated 90 days. Following this, Belthanday JMFC court on Tuesday had granted conditional bail to the duo.