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Human rights activists protest govt's 'witch hunt'

By Onkar Singh
June 23, 2010 23:02 IST
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Human right activists and civil society groupsĀ  have protested the arrest of Abdul Shakeel Bhasha, who was picked up from his residence in Delhi on June 17 for his 'Maoist links'.

He was detained in connection with a case registered against him and several others in Kamrej near Surat.

Shabnam Hashim, social activist of Act Now for Harmony And Democracy, Indu Prakash of Shahri Adhikar Manch and Tanveer Afaque of Haq held a press conference to protest his arrest on Wednesday.

They alleged that the arrest of Abdul Shakeel Basha was an example of the government "unleashing a witch hunt against rights activists and civil society groups in India".

"I have been closely associated with Shakeel and he has never been involved in any kind of activity that is now being attributed to him," said Shabnam Hashmi.

Tanveer Afaque of Haq recalled that despite their best efforts, the special cell of the Delhi police continued to deny that Shakeel was with them. "But information was leaked out to the media and on the morning of June 18, by the time we were allowed to meet him, television channels were reporting about the arrest of a noted Maoist leader from a hide- out in Delhi. He had been working for the homeless and street children with an organisation called Aman Biradari between 2004 and 2008. After that, he joined us to work for Shahri Adhikar Abhiyan," he said.

"He claimed that the judge before whom Shakeel was produced refused to give them a copy of the FIR. It was only after we insisted on securing a copy that the same was given to us by the Gujarat police," he said.

The activists also alleged that some of the media reports were highly biased. "One of the newspapers carried a report claiming Shakeel had escaped while he was being taken to the police station by the Gujarat police. When the judge asked the Gujarat police if this was true, the police officer who appeared in place of the investigating officer denied that Shakeel had escaped from their custody. We appeal to the media to report the facts and not simply write stories given to them by the Delhi police," they said.

When contacted, a senior police officer of Delhi police said, "We simply arrested Shakeel as he was wanted for interrogation by the Gujarat police in connection with a case. We handed him over to the police officers from Gujarat. Civil right activists can say what they want but there is no truth in their claims," he said.

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