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Uttarakhand Police's UAPA Case Against Journalist Collapses After 14 Years

An Uttarakhand court acquitted Rahi of all charges in the 2007 case.

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Over fourteen years after he was originally arrested by the Uttarakhand Police on accusations of sedition and terrorism, activist and journalist Prashant Rahi was acquitted of all charges by an Uttarakhand trial court.

The Udham Singh Nagar Sessions Court on 7 January held that the prosecution had been unable to prove the guilt of Rahi and his three co-accused, as first reported by Rediff.

They had been charged with IPC offences of sedition and waging war and the state, as well as the UAPA offence of being part of a terrorist gang.

The case fell apart because of contradictions in the testimony of the three independent witnesses who were brought forward to support the police narrative, as detailed in the court's order.

These included a forest ranger who contradicted the police's claim that Rahi had showed them all a tent in the forest near Nanakmatta from where key evidence was supposed to have been recovered, a local witness whose statement had been taken in 2004 rather than 2007, and another local who had been threatened by the police to say he had seen strangers in the forest and identify the accused.

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The court also rejected the police's claims of recovering 'banned literature' from Rahi, as no books or other literature seized from his possession were on any actual list of banned items.

A CD with a video showing the wall of the Haridwar jail was alleged to have been part of a plan to help other alleged Maoists Neetu Vallabh and Anil Chaudakoti escape, but the court found that by the time the CD was recovered in December 2007, Vallabh and Chaudakoti had been released on bail.

The Uttarakhand Police and prosecution had also committed several lapses in procedure that were also fatal to the case, including a failure to conduct a test identification parade and get permission from the government to prosecute the accused under the UAPA.

Rahi was arrested on 22 December 2007 (he claimed he had been picked up by the police five days earlier) in connection with the case, and spent four years in pre-trial detention, only getting bail in 2011.

He was subsequently arrested by the Maharashtra Police in 2013 under UAPA charges, along with professor GN Saibaba and others.

They were convicted of being involved with Maoists by a Gadchiroli court in 2017 and Rahi is currently serving a life sentence in Amravati jail as a result.

(With inputs from Rediff)

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