From The Times of India:
LUCKNOW: The Allahabad High Court has granted bail to journalist and civil right activist Seema Azad and her husband Vishvijay. The couple were convicted by a lower court on June 8, 2012, on charges of sedition. They were accused of having links with banned Maoist outfit and were held guilty for ‘waging war against the nation’.
The bail was granted by a division bench comprising Justice Dharnidhar Jha and Justice Akhok Pal Singh. Counsel for the couple Ravi Kiran Jain argued before the court that there was no concrete evidence with the police which can prove that the couple were engaged in naxal activity. He also said that having Naxal literature to study for the purpose of journalist does not amount to any connection with Naxals. Jain also said that Azad and her husband had exposed illegal mining being carried out in Allahabad and adjoining areas by the mafia in connivance with the government officers and police. The couple was implicated in a false case for writing about illegal mining.
Seema Azad’s case is similar to that of Dr Vinayak Sen, who was also implicated by the Chhatisgarh police, for alleged naxal connections. The Uttar Pradesh (UP) chapters of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have welcomed the court’s decision.
“We had full confidence in the judician system,” said Vandana Mishra, secretary PUCL, UP. At the time of arrest Seema was also state secretary of the PUCL and publishing a magazine ‘Dastak’ in which she had written several articles on illegal mining. The couple were also involved in sensitising people on violation of their rights and raised human rights issues.
The Special Task Force (STF) of UP had arrested the couple in February 2010 and had claimed to have recover Maoist literature and large amount of cash from their possession. They were charged with having association with a banned organization, the Communist Party of India (Maoist). After arrest, the STF handed over to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of UP making it a case involving ‘terrorist activity’. In its charge sheet submitted in the court, the ATS claimed that the couple were involved in inciting people through CD, laptops and books. The court held the couple guilty and awarded them life term.
After detaining the couple, the police had then said that two activists were arrested at the Allahabad railway station. However, in the FIR lodged later at the Khuldabad police station, police showed that the couple were arrested by the STF from Khuldabad in Allahabad.
The police had then also claimed that it found incriminating material which included a detailed programme of Krantikari Jan Committee, pamphlets carrying message of CPI (Maoist), a pamphlet related to the arrest of Kobad Gandhi, a pamphlet on arrest of Naxal and Maoist functionaries and members in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.