UAPA Charges Against HRF Functionaries, Other Activists Intended To Stifle Dissent

The accusations contained in the two FIRs, at Munchingput police station in Visakhapatnam district and Piduguralla in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, against VS Krishna of Human Rights Forum (HRF) and functionaries of several other rights, literary, and Dalit organizations is clearly an exercise in intimidation to stifle lawful dissent and protest. We have no hesitation in stating that the contents of the FIRs are a litany of lies.

In the Munchingput FIR, VS Krishna, AP & Telangana Coordination Committee member of HRF has been accused of influencing the Vakapalli rape survivors to depose falsely against the policemen. This is an atrocious allegation. HRF along with many Adivasi, womens’ and mass organisations were active participants since August 2007 seeking justice for the 11 Vakapalli women who were raped by special forces personnel. It is because of the sheer resilience of the women of Vakapalli and the intervention of the High Court in 2012 and the Supreme Court in September 2017, that the trial is continuing in the SC, ST Special Court at Visakhapatnam. Thirteen accused police personnel are presently on trial. While two of the Vakapalli women had died in the intervening years, the remaining nine came to Visakhapatnam and deposed in court. HRF, along with several other organisations have provided them food and shelter to be able to depose in the trial. It is certainly not a crime to provide food and shelter to Adivasi women witnesses who have come from remote areas to depose in a criminal trial mandated by the law. 

It is because of this solidarity and sustained rights activism over the years that the police are now seeking to intimidate VS Krishna in what we believe to be a clear case of vindictiveness. They have gone to the extent of invoking the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act which is a draconian legislation that mocks at fundamental freedoms. Such a law should have no place in a democracy. In the recent past, we are witness to how the UAPA is being deployed in many States against those who speak up against rights violations, highlight the plight of vulnerable communities and oppose undemocratic policies and excesses of the government.

The UAPA was also invoked against three HRF functionaries – Telangana State HRF vice-president Atram Bhujanga Rao, Adilabad district HRF president A Suguna and HRF Komaram Bheem Asifabad district president Kanaka Venkatesh – in a FIR lodged at Tadvai police station in Mulug district of Telangana on November 2, 2020. All three are teachers in government schools. It is a reflection of the illiberal times we live in that the police, in open abuse of the legitimate powers vested in them, can file FIRs stacked with outrageous and barefaced untruths. 

HRF is not a surrogate or front of any political party. We were formed in 1998 with the firm conviction that a broad-based and truly independent human rights movement is desirable and possible. We believe that the essence of human rights is the notion of equality in human value and worth. HRF shall continue to work for the protection of Constitutionally/Internationally recognised rights of the people and for the right of the people to propose and strive for new rights not yet recognised in national or international law. We will continue to endeavor for the spreading of a human rights culture in society.

We demand that the fabricated accusations in these FIRs be immediately dropped.

A Chandrasekhar
(HRF Coordination Committee member
TS & AP)

S. Jeevan Kumar
(HRF Coordination Committee member
TS & AP)


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