Members of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) alleged Tuesday their organising secretary Seema Azad has been falsely branded as a Maoist because of “her campaigns exposing the police misdeeds, particularly their connivance with illegal miners”.
Azad, 35, was arrested Saturday from Allahabad along with her husband Vishwavijay Azad alias Kamalji on charges of having links with Maoists.
The PUCL has already announced it would hold a protest Feb 13 in Lucknow in suppot of Azad.
“On a number of occasions, she (Seema Azad) had taken up the cudgels on behalf of poor labourers and exposed the nexus between the police and the illegal contractors, who used to deploy labourers for unauthorised mining of stone or sand in various regions of Uttar Pradesh, particularly the Sonbhadra district,” PUCL vice-president Ramkumar told reporters here Tuesday.
“Being an editor of a magazine named Dastak, which focused on social issues and development, Seema had a number of times written articles on corrupt practices of police and contractors. We, therefore, believe Seema has been targeted primarily owing to her such campaigns,” he added.
According to PUCL members, Azad often wrote in Dastak against several government policies that she thought were against the poor and downtrodden.
While the police claimed “prohibited literature on Maoists” was recovered from Azad’s possession, PUCL members said police should elaborate what was the prohibited literature.
“Just saying it was prohibited literature holds no significance…We are sure the literature was not anti-national…Actually, we believe what the police term ‘prohibited’ comprises reference material that Seema was to use in her articles for magazines,” another PUCL vice-president, S.R Darapuri, a former IPS officer, told IANS.
“Possessing Maoist literature is no crime,” he added.
Terming Azad’s arrest as a violation to human rights, the PUCL demanded an early release of its organising secretary, who has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.