WOMEN JAILED OVER ‘MAOIST LINKS’ !By Omar Rashid

By Omar Rashid

The woman and her husband were arrested in October this year on the basis of examination and data extraction of electronic devices seized from them four years ago

A 38-year-old activist who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police in October on charges of alleged Maoist links suffered a miscarriage in prison a week after a court in Lucknow dismissed her plea for bail on medical grounds of a high-risk pregnancy, The Wire has learnt.
The UP Anti-Terrorist Squad had on October 18 arrested Anita Aazad alias Prabha and her husband and fellow activist Brijesh Kushwaha, more than four years after the couple had been questioned for suspected Maoist links. While the police did not arrest the couple in 2019 for want of physical evidence, Kushwaha and Prabha were arrested in October on the basis of examination and data extraction of electronic devices seized from them four years ago.
Prabha has been lodged in Lucknow district jail since October 20. On December 9 evening, Prabha, who was four-and-a-half months pregnant, suffered a miscarriage and was admitted to a women’s government hospital in Lucknow, her medical reports show. The miscarriage was officially recorded at 9.15 pm.
“I am under immense mental stress. I cannot even express it. I had taken a big risk in getting pregnant again,” Prabha told The Wire from her hospital bed. The call was facilitated by a family member attending to her.
This was the second miscarriage Prabha suffered this year. As she suffers from a hyper thyroid condition, which contributes to increasing the risk of a pregnancy, her family members said, citing her medical history.
Brijesh Kushwaha and Prabha. Photo provided by author

‘Entirely the doctor’s fault’
Prabha alleged that the doctor treating her inside the prison did not show the required urgency to send her to the district hospital for treatment when she suffered abdomen pain. “It is entirely the doctor’s fault,” she said, adding that spotting (a term for vaginal bleeding) had started on Friday night but she was taken to the district hospital only on Saturday evening.
Ashish Tiwari, Lucknow district jail superintendent, denied Prabha’s charge of negligence and said she had been sent to the district hospital, which was well-equipped.
Tiwari said a comment on the medical cause of the miscarriage could be made only after the district hospital submitted their official report. “It is her interpretation,” Tiwari told The Wire on Prabha’s allegations, adding that he had not received any complaint or adverse report so far.
While Kushwaha is linked to the Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Manch of Deoria, Prabha is associated with the outfit Savitri Bai Phule Sangarsh Samiti. Kushwaha completed M.A Sanskrit from Deoria and was linked to the Inquilabi Chhatra Sabha during his student days. He met Prabha while working in Bilaspur in Chhatisgarh in 2006 and the two married in 2010.
The ATS had in October said it arrested Kushwaha from his native place in Deoria in East Uttar Pradesh while Prabha was arrested from her maternal house in Raipur in Chhattisgarh where she had intended to rest during the period of her pregnancy.
The couple faces charges under sections 120B, 121A, 419, 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 13, 18 and 38 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The ATS had claimed it found letters and literature from their electronic devices that were linked to the banned Maoist outfit PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerilla Army) and CPI (Maoist).

‘Won’t be proper to grant her bail’
Prabha applied for bail in a district court stating that she was falsely implicated by the ATS to show “good work.” There was no evidence linking her to any Maoist organisation or criminal organisation, she told court. Prabha also cited her pregnancy and medical condition while pleading for bail. She had then informed the court that she was four months pregnant and suffered from diabetes and hyper thyroid condition. “Doctor has advised her full bedrest and proper diet, which are not possible in the jail,” her lawyer submitted in court in the bail application.
On November 29, Vivekananda Sharan Tripathi, special judge NIA/ATS, Lucknow, rejected her bail plea saying that the allegations against her were “prima facie of a serious nature.”
“It would not be proper to grant her bail merely on the fact that she is pregnant,” judge Tripathi said in his order, a copy of which is with The Wire.
The judge said that two witnesses – Rajesh Gupta and Dinanath Nishad – in their statement under CrPC 164 had supported the allegations of their alleged involvement in “anti-national activities. “It is the court’s opinion that the matter concerning the accused is anti-social and anti-national,” the judge said.

‘Maoist links’
While opposing her bail, the special public prosecutor arguing for the ATS said that during an analysis of a data extraction report of the couple’s laptop they had found a typewritten letter in a word file linked to the CPI (Maoist). The public prosecutor said Prabha had allegedly worked with a Maoist leader K. Srinivas alias Arvindji, who carried a bounty of Rs 5 lakh in Chambal, and provided him shelter along with her other aides when he was in Maharajganj in East UP. The ATS accused Prabha of helping Arvindji conceal his identity and evade arrest.
In July 2019, while questioning the couple in connection with an FIR lodged on alleged Maoist links, the ATS had seized their electronic devices and sent them for examination and data extraction to an FSL.
The ATS in October said it found documents linked to Maoists after carrying out an “intensive analysis of the report packed with the complete extracted digital data received from the FSL this month.” The ATS also claimed it recovered letters of “comrades of CPI (Maoist),” with references to “anti-national activities” from their electronic devices.
The police accused Kushwaha and Prabha of being involved in “anti-national activities” and spreading Communist ideology through the outfits run by them. When the ATS had raided their home in 2019 and questioned them, it did not find any “credible material evidence” due to which they were not arrested.
The police said in the FIR suspected Maoists had been holding meetings in the states of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and were engaging in criminal conspiracy to instigate people for armed rebellion and making a plan for satta parivartan (change in government).
The ATS had in 2019 arrested two out of the seven persons named in the FIR, Manish Azad aka Manish Srivastava and his wife Anita Srivastava from their residence in Bhopal. The two, who have a record in translation and academic work, were later granted bail. Kushwaha and Prabha were among those named in the FIR.
The police had then conducted raids in Bhopal, Kanpur, Deoria and Kushinagar, and also seized several electronic devices and documents.
The National Investigation Agency had earlier this year interrogated one of the co-accused in the 2019 FIR, Manish Azad, as it conducted simultaneous searches at the residences and offices of several activists, including Manish’s sister and national secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties Seema Azad, and students in various cities of eastern Uttar Pradesh. The NIA said its raid was against suspects in connection with alleged attempts by leaders and cadres of the CPI (Maoist) to revive the banned organization across UP.

Courtesy: The Wire

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