Activists held for possession of ‘Maoist literature’
Activists here criticised Jharkhand police’s arrests of two anti-displacement activists of Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) on charges of being affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Maoists). Members of VVJVA, an umbrella organisation opposing forcible land acquisition in Jharkhand, and other Ranchi-based activists announced a public meeting on Tuesday to oppose the arrests. One of the accused, Vishvanath Singh Khairwar, worked as a caretaker at the VVJVA office here since 2009. The other, Utpal Vaske, a cultural activist had come to Ranchi to appear in a hearing at the district court in a 2011 case in which he was earlier accused of being a CPI (Maoist) cadre.
The two were arrested at 4 a.m. on August 31 from the organisation office. According to the First Information Report, the district armed police acting on the order of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ranchi surrounded the organisation office at 3.30 a.m. on receiving intelligence that Naxals were present in the office to plan an attack. “The two men tried to flee when they saw the police. Mr. Vaske took out the SIM from his mobile phone and began to chew it till he was ordered to spit it. The house was searched and Naxal literature recovered from the office,” notes FIR 289/13 at Bariatu police station.
Among Naxal literature, the FIR lists “receipts of membership fees of Krantikaari Kisan Samiti, a CPI (Maoist) publication ‘ Marxwaad Leninwaad Ke Roshan Lal Jhande Ko Uuncha Uthaaye ’, and two copies of Ranchi Declaration, publication ‘Jan Vikas Model’ and the monthly magazine ‘Lalkaar’ published by the VVJVA. According to the FIR, both the accused confessed to being members of Jharkhand Evan affiliated with the CPI (Maoists).
“Our colleagues say that they were about to go for their morning ablutions at 4 a.m. when the police barged into the office and started harassing them. Vishvanath is from a very poor family from Garhwa handling phone calls and paper work for our meetings since 2009. Utpal had appeared in the Ranchi court the same day. Our magazines focus on issues of agriculture and people-oriented development. Experts from several States and the press have attended our events,” said K.N. Pandit, 75, Convenor of VVJVA and a trade unionist.
“Earlier they arrested cultural activist Jiten Marandi and his wife in the same manner without evidence and now they are harassing these people. Displacement is the biggest public issue in Jharkhand and their work is very important,” said VVJVA member academic B.P. Keshri who retired from the Tribal and Regional Languages department at Ranchi University. “We have already returned some of the literature to their office after we found it was not related to Maoists activities. Krantikaari Kisan Samiti and Jharkhand Evan are cultural organisations that act as front organisations for Maoists rebels involved in armed struggle and we are still investigating,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police (Silli), Anand Tigga. SSP Ranchi did not respond to requests for comment. The accused have been sent to Birsa Munda jail here.
Village head shot dead by Maoists in Odisha
Malkangiri: A village head was gunned down by Maoists at a remote village in Odisha’s Malkangiri district. A group of heavily armed ultras called Ishwar Chandra Sodi, village head in Padia area, out of his house and shot him dead last evening in Kota Materu village, Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Akhileswar Singh said. Though the exact reason behind the killing was yet to be ascertained, the red rebels apparently eliminated the village head as they suspected him to be functioning as an informer for the police, they said. Police force had been sent to the remote forest area, about 40 km from here, and investigation was in progress, police said. The killing came shortly after nine Maoists surrendered before the police in the Naxal-affected district. PTI