The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday night, 31 March, carried out searches in the residences of reportedly at least 20 activists in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The raids were conducted against activists who are members of the Human Rights Forum, a civil rights organisation, Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, Virasam (Revolutionary Writers’ Association) and others, in connection with the Munchingiputtu case.
The case pertains to one person identified as Pangi Naganna, an alleged Maoist ‘courier’ who was arrested in November 2020 by the Visakhapatnam Rural police in Andhra Pradesh.
The police had filed a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and several other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
On Wednesday, searches were conducted at the residence of VS Krishna, co-ordination committee member of Human Rights Forum for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, advocate V Raghunath, a member of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, Chiluka Chandrasekhar, Dappu Ramesh, Varalaxmi of Virasam and others who were named in the FIR registered by the Visakhapatnam Rural Police Station. The original FIR had named 64 persons, including Naganna as the prime accused.
The NIA search order given to VS Krishna read, “It has been made to appear to me that there is strong likelihood of getting incriminating evidence appearing against Vaasireddy Krishna, which is essential to the enquiry now being made in the said offences.”
Following his arrest, Naganna allegedly named several activists who are allegedly working as frontal organisations for the outlawed Maoist party.
The case was later taken over by the NIA Hyderabad, who had registered an FIR regarding this on 7 March 2021.
Naganna has been booked under Sections 120 B (Punishment for criminal conspiracy), 121 (Waging, or attempting to wage war), 121 A (Conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section 121), 143 (Punishment for unlawful assembly), 144 (Whoever, being armed with any deadly weapon, or with anything which, used as a weapon of offence) and 124 A (Sedition) of the Indian Penal Code.
VS Krishna, a former journalist, is a prominent human rights activist, well known in the Telugu-speaking states.
In the FIR registered by the Visakhapatnam Rural police, Krishna who was aiding the Vakapalli Adivasi rape survivors, was accused of being a “Maoist” and coercing the rape survivors into "falsely testifying" against the Greyhounds personnel.
In the Vakapalli rape incident, which took place in 2007, 13 Greyhounds personnel raided the Vakapalli hamlet, a tribal agency area under Nurmati panchayat in Visakhapatnam, and allegedly raped 11 Adivasi women belonging to the Kondh tribe (categorised as Scheduled Tribe).
Several civil rights activists, including Krishna, fought for the justice of the rape survivors legally. The trial in the incident, which happened more than a decade ago, commenced in 2019 and is currently under trial in the SC/ST Special Court, Visakhapatnam. Two survivors had already died before the trial began.
(This story was first published on The News Minute and has been republished here with permission.)