COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025
Condemn the Arrest of Student and Cultural Activist Hem Mishra
by the Maharashtra Police!
Release Hem Mishra Unconditionally!
It was on the evening of 23rd August that we at the CRPP received a call from a common friend about the alleged arrest of Mr. Hem Mishra, a JNUite and cultural activist. It was disclosed from an anonymous number to Mr. Shamsher Singh Bisht that Hem Mishra has been arrested by the Gadchiroli police. Mr. Shamsher Singh Bisht was told by the caller to inform Hem’s family. Apart from this there was no information as to where he was arrested and in which police station he was kept.
After a whole day’s effort through lawyers and journalist friends finally in the evening of the 24th the DIG Rajendra Kadam admitted to the media that Hem Mishra was arrested on the 23rd morning and was produced before the court on the 24th evening to be remanded to police custody for 10 days. All these looks clean. But when one digs deeper it is evident that Hem Mishra has been incommunicado for the last four days or so. It is again self explanatory that he has been picked up much earlier by the Maharashtra police and has shown the arrest only on the 23rd to fit to the rule book. The possibility of Hem being tortured in these days cannot be ruled out given the track record of the police. While his friends and lawyers were trying to trace down the whereabouts of Hem, the local media was abuzz with the arrest of a Maoist/Naxalite with two alleged couriers of a certain Narmada, a Maoist leader. Except a few diligent journalists the media was taken in by the sensational news provided by the police. As usual the police officials were soon to tell the media, once they admitted his arrest, that they got incriminating stuff from Hem. But beyond that hyperbole of a statement the same officials kept mum on what this incriminating material that they had seized from him! The police further claims Hem to be a courier for the Maoists from Uttarakhand! And further to add meat to the story they claim that he was arrested at a very sensitive place between Aheri and Etapally which is a stronghold of the Maoists. Anyone who is conversant with the modus operandi of the police in these regions or for that matter anywhere given their illustrious record of impunity will vouch that the arrest has happened somewhere else and it has been shown in this region deliberately.
Given the sensation driven reporting in a sizeable section of the media the natural curiosity is that why Hem Mishra has in the first place been to this area? Anyone who knows Hem Mishra—as testified by his friends—recalls a person sensitive to the issues confronting the adivasis of Central and Eastern India as well as someone who would find himself on the side of the masses of the people. A cultural activist he has been active in JNU and outside singing for the cause of the adivasis, against Operation Green Hunt, against the increasing instances of impunity of the state. He has been active in the student politics on JNU campus and elsewhere as an activist of the Democratic Student’s Union. As an executive member, Hem Mishra has also been part of the efforts of the CRPP to provide legal aid and in the larger campaign for the release of the political prisoners.
Given his sensitivity to people’s issues, Hem has been an avid traveller often venturing into different regions of the subcontinent that normally don’t attract others. He has also been part of several fact finding missions to record the plight of the people under the scourge of the fascist violence of the state and other private business interests out to loot and plunder the land and resources of the people. He was very impressed with the work undertaken by Dr. Prakash Amte and his family in Gadchiroli and had often expressed his wish to visit the place. Perhaps he also had this wish to look for some alternate means of medication for the persisting pain in his left hand after two complicated surgeries, albeit huge financial difficulties, to get some relief for a physical disability. The arrest and then framing up of Hem Mishra is a tell tale case of any person in the subcontinent to find himself/herself at a potentially “sensitive” place to be incriminated by the security/intelligence agencies as per their whims. And it is difficult for any other common sense to prevail where one can still refuse to accept the hysteria and frenzy of the ideology of the so-called ‘war against terror’ and believe with conviction that a person can still go to these places and s/he has their right to not be incriminated or harassed. The lawlessness of the law in these regions comes out in the ugliest fashion when someone from the urban centre gets framed by the security agencies. Otherwise the everyday life of the people in these regions has several such untold stories to tell, abound with miseries.
The arrest and framing of Hem Mishra is a step further from the security forces/intelligence agencies to further trample on the rights of the people who have been raising their voices against the worst kinds of miseries they have been subjected to by the state and its forces in the name of growth and development. Perhaps Gadchiroli is the only district which is administered by no less than 40 plus IAS/IPS officers. All claims of the state to bring the government and the administration to the people have only resulted in more and more arrests, intimidation, torture, rape and loot. The arrest of Hem shown at such a “sensitive” area where the atrocities of the state on the people are the maximum is also an indicator of things to come. Anyone who raises their voice in support of the people in these regions will also be subjected to the same treatment. Only a massive mobilisation of public opinion against such vindictive and incriminating conduct of the state can push back this grand design of the Indian State to build a Garrison State.
We strongly demand the unconditional release of Hem Mishra.
Secretary, Public Relations