Telangana government to withdraw cases against 152 activists who were booked under UAPA last August

Telangana police had filed UAPA cases against human rights advocate and retired UoH Professor G Haragopal, along with 151 others, in 2022.

BySumit Jha

Published Jun 17, 2023 | 3:33 PMUpdatedJun 17, 2023 | 3:33 PM

KCR directed DGP Anjani Kumar to immediately look into the process of withdrawing the UAPA cases registered against the activists. (Supplied)

The Telangana government on Saturday, 17 June, decided to drop charges against 152 individuals who were implicated under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in August 2022.

Back in August 2022, the Telangana police had filed UAPA cases against human rights advocate and retired University of Hyderabad (UoH) professor G Haragopal, Osmania University journalism professor Padmaja Shaw, and 150 others in the state.

Interestingly, none of the accused were aware of the charges against them filed at Tadvai police station in Mulugu district.

Notable figures mentioned in the FIR, apart from Prof Haragopal and Prof Shaw, were Telangana Civil Liberties Committee President Prof Gaddam Laxman, Justice (Retd) H Suresh of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, activist Sudha Bhardwaj, human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, activist Arun Ferreira, senior advocate V Raghunath of the Telangana High Court, Chikkudu Prabhakar, and others.

They were accused of conspiring to “take over the power of the democratically-elected government at gunpoint”.

Following public criticism of the UAPA cases against these activists, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao instructed DGP Anjani Kumar on Saturday to immediately initiate the process of withdrawing the charges against all of them.

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Revelation during the trial

Though the Tadvai police in Mulugu district of Telangana had registered the case on 19 August, 2022, it came to light only on 15 June, when People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) president Chandramouli approached the LB Nagar court in the Rangareddy district.

Based on Chandramouli’s appeal, the court directed the officials concerned to furnish all FIRs filed against him. The police presented an FIR that named 152 individuals as accused under various sections, including the UAPA.

The 152 people were charged under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), 147 (rioting), and 148 (rioting with a deadly weapon) of Indian Penal Code, and Section 10 (membership in an unlawful association), 13 (unlawful activities), 18 (conspiracy), 20 (membership in a terrorist gang or a terrorist organisation), and 38 (support given to a terrorist organisation) of the UAPA, and Section 25 (1-B)(a) (Possession of arms without a license) of the Arms Act.

When South First reached out to some of those named in the FIR and they said that they were unaware that they had been booked under the UAPA and had received no notices from the police.

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According to the FIR accessed by South First, the case was registered following a complaint made by V Shankar, the Circle Inspector (CI) of Parsa police. He reported receiving information about an illegal gathering of members from the CPI (Maoist) in Telangana on 19 August, 2022.

The complaint stated that individuals such as Bade Chokka Rao, Kankanala Rajireddy, Koyada Sambaiah, Kursam Maggu, Madakam Sannal, Kunju Veeraiah, Kovasi Ganga, Muchaki Ungal, Jamuna, Roshan, and others, including groups and militia members, were scheduled to attend the meeting.

The inspector alleged that they were involved in various unlawful activities, including attacking government officials, damaging government property, recruiting tribal youth into the banned CPI (Maoist) party, terrorising innocent people, and providing financial support to the party.

Acting on this information, Shankar and a team of police officers proceeded to Asannagudem, Ellapur in Tadvai. They reportedly encountered armed individuals dressed in olive green uniforms, who were identified as members of the banned CPI (Maoist) party. The officers ordered them to surrender, but they escaped into the dense forest.

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During the operation, the police said they found prohibited Maoist literature — and a list of 152 individuals and various organisations was also found.

The FIR mentioned that the literature described the active involvement of leaders and members from different public organisations.

The FIR stated that government officials and properties were targeted based on the directives of Central Committee Member Pulluri Prasad Rao, also known as Chandranna

. Additionally, they allegedly recruited tribal youth into the CPI (Maoist) party to terrorise innocent people and raise funds for the party.

“As per the agenda of the above-mentioned Maoist party, unknown leaders, army group members, militia group members and banned Maoist party working against the government to kill politicians and policemen, and take over the power of the democratically-elected government at gunpoint,” the FIR read.